A study, published online last month in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, has found new hope for those looking to prevent cancer. It found that eating peanut butter regularly in your preteen and teen years was associated with a decreased risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult.
Benign breast disease is fairly common, with about 80% of all breast lumps being benign, and while not cancerous, experts agree it is a risk factor for breast cancer later in life.
In 1996, researchers followed more than 9,000 schoolgirls recruited to The Growing Up Today Study, who were between the ages of nine to 15 years of age between 1996 and 2001, and then again from 2005 through 2010 when the girls were now women between the ages of 18 to 30 years of age. The girls had to complete detailed questionnaires about food consumption and frequency. What they found was that those who ate peanut butter or nuts twice each week were 39% less likely to develop benign breast disease than those who never ate them.
While there have been prior studies that have made the connection between peanut butter, nut, and vegetable fat consumption with a lower risk of benign breast disease, this is the first to use reports made during the participants teenage years with continued follow-ups.
“These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women,” said senior author Dr. Graham Colditz, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Centre at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
Peanut butter is one of the most commonly consumed plant-proteins in the U.S. In fact, peanut butter and peanuts account for two-thirds of all nuts consumed. A peanut butter sandwich is not only an American favorite, but it is an affordable and nutrient-dense food that can also reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
For those of you out there with nut allergies, all is not lost. The study’s findings also suggest that beans, lentils, soybeans, and corn also may help prevent benign breast disease, but consumption of these foods was much lower in these girls meaning the evidence was weaker.
There has also been a great deal of convincing evidence over the past few years linking lifestyle habits to the prevention of breast cancer. A few of the key ones to help lower the risks of breast cancer are:
- Regular exercise
- Cutting out saturated fats
- Avoiding smoking
- A plant-based diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding refined sugar
Also, note that while peanut butter and nuts contain healthier fats, they are also high in calories. So as with everything, always use in moderation.
“The Peanut Institute” web site; http://www.peanut-institute.org/