Walnuts are produced and eaten all around the world and add more than
flavor and crunch to the menu. They have beneficial effects when it
comes to heart disease, and a new study indicates that three chemicals
in the walnut seem to amplify those favorable effects on breast cancer.
omega-3 fatty acid, the phytosterols and antioxidants individually have
been shown to prevent or delay cancers," says Dr. Elaine Hardman with
the Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia. "So if you
add them all together, it looks like it may be really good."
cites a separate study she did involving lab animals that were given a
diet containing the exact same amount of omega-3 fatty acid the nuts
provide, but without the other components of the walnut.
did reduce cancer incidents," she reports, "but not as dramatically as
the walnut-containing diet did. So it's something else other than the
omega-3 in the walnut that's contributing to the suppression of
The daily amount of walnuts given to the lab animals is the human equivalent of about 56 grams - or a big handful of nuts.
testing on mice that were specially bred to develop breast cancer
revealed a three-week delay in tumor development. She says that is a
significant improvement, when compared to their typical six-month
lifespan. And in humans, she adds, "Since most cancers develop when
you're older, if you could increase the time until the cancer develops
even 15 percent, then that's a considerable delay, and you might die
from something else before the cancer ever showed up!"
study was presented to the annual meeting of the American Association
for Cancer Research, held earlier this month in Denver.