Can your diet lower your chances of getting cancer? The answer is yes!
Just like smoking cigarettes increases your risk of getting cancer, you can potentially decrease your risk by eating certain foods. What are these foods?
Well, I wish I could say cookies, ice cream, and pizza. But, it seems like every study on disease out there points a finger at healthy food and exercise as a way to remain healthy.
Snack Girl was thrilled to interview Dr. Elaine Hardman. Dr. Hardman is a cancer researcher at the Marshall University School of Medicine. She has studied WALNUTS for 15 years. And guess, what? Walnuts helped slow breast cancer growth in mice.
Snack Girl: Your study showed that snack-sized quantities of walnuts slowed breast cancer growth in mice - why would walnuts effect cancer growth?
Dr. Hardman: Walnuts have several ingredients that individually have been shown to slow cancer growth including omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and other antioxidants and phytosterols. Based on the mechanisms for how these ingredients act separately, it is probably that small amounts can act together to be even more effective at slowing cancer.
Snack Girl:These mice already had tumors when you gave them walnuts. Based on your evidence, do you think eating walnuts would help prevent cancer?
Dr. Hardman: I have another study in progress that has a cancer prevention design. I can tell you that the answer is ‘yes’; the results indicate that walnuts can prevent cancer. This publication is ‘in review’ and will be out soon.
Another type of prevention is prevention of recurrence. Since recurrence occurs from a few cancer cells that did not die from the original treatment, the data that indicates slowing of cancer growth would apply to preventing recurrence.
Snack Girl: Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told to eat a handful of walnuts every day. Do you think this recommendation is premature?
Dr. Hardman: We never know whether a recommendation will help an individual and there have been no clinical trials to test walnuts against cancer in people. That said, the animal work indicates that there may be benefit from eating walnuts and it certainly will not hurt.
Walnuts as a snack are a much healthier choice than many other snacks. I find when I eat a few walnuts, my munchies are satisfied and I do not keep going back for more as I do when I eat candy or chips.
Snack Girl: Are there any other foods that you would recommend for cancer treatment and prevention?
Dr. Hardman: Scientists think that between 30 and 60% of all cancers could be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes. A healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains (also sources of the antioxidants and phytosterols) and fish (high in omega 3 fatty acids) could reduce risk for cancers.
We are beginning to understand that too many calories, leading to overweight, increases risk for cancer, regardless of the source of the calories so it is important to maintain a healthy weight. No one can (or should) eat just one item; walnuts can be a beneficial part of a healthy diet.
Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?
Dr. Hardman: Stashed in my desk drawer right now are walnuts, I also like to keep dark chocolate to eat with the walnuts. Toasting the walnuts really brings out the flavor but the ones I have now are not toasted.
Thanks, Dr. Hardman!
Please share your favorite way to eat walnuts.