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New research shows walnuts could help women who are dealing with breast cancer. The study, conducted at Marshall University, shows eating two ounces of walnuts a day for about two weeks slowed breast cancer growth or reduced the risk of developing the disease.

Dr. Shelley Tworoger

“Nut intake, including walnuts, has been associated with a lower risk of Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk,” said Shelley Tworoger, Ph.D., associate center director for Population Science at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Recent studies trying to understand this association have suggested that eating nuts, particularly when eaten in place of red or processed meat or refined grains, can lower inflammation in the body. High inflammation is associated with cancer risk, including breast cancer.”

As part of the study, a group of women ate two ounces of walnuts per day immediately following a biopsy and until surgery about two weeks later. Researchers found significant changes in the tumor’s gene expression in the women who ate the nuts, compared to those who didn’t.

Other studies have shown the Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and extra nuts could lower the risk of breast cancer compared to a normal diet. Last year, a study from Yale showed colon cancer survivors who regularly eat nuts have a significantly lower risk for cancer recurrence.

“Overall, eating some nuts, particularly in place of less healthy foods, is likely beneficial for heart health and possibly reducing cancer risk,” said Tworoger.

You should avoid eating nuts if you have any nut allergies.