Who knew that an edible seed has the ability to cut the risk of breast cancer? Researchers investigating the effects of giving nuts to mice from the womb to adulthood have found that eating about 2 ounces of walnuts a day may cut the risk of breast cancer by half. Mice that were given walnuts had a lower risk of cancer, and those who developed the disease had fewer and smaller tumors. The excitement in the news comes from the fact that the mice were genetically programmed to develop cancer at a high rate, and the consumption of the walnuts reduced the risk for cancer even when the genetic mutation was pre-existing. If you have breast cancer, consumption of walnuts may help curb tumor growth.
The elements contained in the walnuts change the activity levels of multiple genes which cause breast cancer in both humans and mice. The elements in walnuts include: omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols. Phytosterols stick to estrogen receptors so they would be expected to slow the growth of breast cancers. Estrogen is the fuel for the growth of some breast tumors.
According to the Daily Mail, some caution should be taken when considering whether this study is a breakthrough. Animal studies do not guarantee the same results in humans. For example: one animal study suggested that beta-carotene reduced the risk of lung cancer as well as reduced the lung cancer itself. But when the study was done using humans, smokers given beta-carotene actually got more lung cancer. While the study is a good one, it calls for more extensive research in humans to understand how walnuts might prevent breast tumors.
However, this study does highlight the important role that diet plays in the health of the human body. It determines how the body reacts to illness and how it functions in general. The food we consume should be thought of not only as fuel but as an important medicine in our diet. Adding healthy fat and as well as other components means that unhealthy fat will be reduced.
This could be excellent news for people who like Waldorf salads. The salad is famous for its use of walnuts as a main ingredient. The first Waldorf salad was created in New York City in 1893 by the maitre d’hôtel of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. It is a healthy salad which includes toasted walnuts, celery, grapes apples, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, pepper and lettuce.