Peanuts and lower risk of breast cancer

Media coverage today picked up on our paper published last week in breast cancer research and treatment (link). In that paper, we reported on the follow-up of women in the Growing Up Today’s Study. Over 9000 women were recruited to the study in 1996 when they were 9 to 15 years of age. The unique contribution in this study is that the women reported their dietary intake every year from 1996 to 2001. They were followed to age 30 for the diagnosis of benign breast disease confirmed by breast biopsy. This real-time data collection on their dietary habits as they grew through adolescence overcomes potential limitations and concerns about the accuracy of diet recall. In the analysis, vegetable protein and vegetable fat were inversely related to risk of benign breast disease. The strongest protection came from peanuts or from the combination of peanut butter, nuts, beans, lentils, soybeans and corn.

Comments on other media platforms have suggested the study must have been funded by the food industry. In fact this study has never received funding from the food industry. The study was established with funding from the National Institutes of Health and has been assisted with funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Last month we reported that alcohol consumption during the adolescent and young adult years is directly related to increased risk of both benign breast disease and invasive breast cancer (link to the full article on alcohol). The current study suggests that the adverse effects of our Western lifestyle (including higher alcohol consumption and less physical activity) may be counteracted by more intake of vegetables with an emphasis on vegetable protein including peanut consumption.

In this study, a serving of peanuts was either a peanut butter sandwich or a small bag of peanuts. For each additional two servings per week risk of benign breast disease was reduced by over half.

Replacing high fat snacks and junk food with peanuts can lower lifetime risk of breast cancer. examples of healthy menu options to include nuts include a recipe for green beans, tofu and crushed peanuts.

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