More than 75,600 women were followed in the widely-recognized Nurses’ Health Study. It shows that those who consumed a 28g (1oz.) serving of nuts two or more times per week, significantly reduced their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, the fourth most common cause for cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
Results of this large prospective cohort study can be found online in the British Journal of Cancer. The lead author is Ying Bao, MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. Dr. Bao states these results were independent of established or suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer including age, height, obesity, physical activity, smoking, diabetes and dietary factors. Also, participants could have no previous history of cancer.
In addition to pistachios, the nuts consumed by the women in the nurses study included almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts. Documentation began in 1980 with follow up every four years through 2010. The study also showed that women with more frequent nut consumption were generally leaner, more likely to exercise, and less likely to smoke. Earlier studies have linked tree nut consumption to a reduced risk for diabetes.
The long-running Nurses’ Health Study was funded by research grants from the National Institutes of Health. This study specifically examining the association between tree nut consumption and pancreatic cancer was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and by a grant from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. It was also supported in part by a micro-grant from the Biomedical Research Institute at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. State cancer registries also helped with the study. The sponsors did not participate in the design and analysis or any other parts of the study or approval of the manuscript.