Walnuts to fight prostate cancer

25 March 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

walnuts.jpgEating walnuts as part of a balanced diet may reduce the size and growth of prostate tumours, a study on mice has shown.

Both prostate cancer patients and those with heart disease have elevated levels of a protein called endothelin-a in the body. This in turn causes increased inflammation of blood vessels. Previous research had shown that walnuts helped fight heart disease by lowering endothelin. So scientists wanted to see if walnuts could have a similar effect on prostate cancer.

The team fed walnuts to mice that were developing prostate cancer. The mice were given approximately 14 shelled nuts a day for two months. Results showed the tumours were nearly 50% smaller and grew 30% slower in mice that were fed walnuts than in the control group. Scientists also found that the walnut fed mice had lower amounts of insulin-like growth factor-1. In high quantities the growth factor has been shown to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Around 10,000 men a year die from the condition in the UK. In the last 30 years prostate cancer cases have tripled due to increases in testing and detection. Once diagnosed, 77% of men survive beyond 5 years.

Walnuts contain vitamin E, antioxidants, and other healthy substances like omega-3 fatty acids which are normally found in more expensive foods such as salmon. The research, which was presented at a conference, is yet to be peer reviewed, but provides insight into ways in which men's diets could help stave off the disease.