(RxWiki News) Do walnuts fight off cancer? A recent Harvard Medical School study showed that walnuts have inhibitory effects upon colorectal cancer in mice.
Many studies indicate that diets high in nuts and seeds lead to lower rates of colorectal cancer. This data has been supported by animal studies showing that flax seed does indeed have an ability to slow colon tumor growth.
Walnut has also shown effectiveness against colon cancer cell cultures, but until the recent study by Dr. Jutta Nagel, a research fellow in medicine at the Harvard Medical School Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s department of Gastroenterology, few studies have been conducted in live animals involving dietary walnut and its effectiveness against colon cancer.
"Add walnuts and flaxseed to your diet."
Studies like Dr. Nagel’s empower primary care physicians and oncologist with more confidence in suggesting specific dietary strategies to possibly help prevent, colorectal cancer.
The study itself was published in the January issue of Nutrition Journal. Dr. Nagel and his team conducted their research by feeding cancerous mice a diet rich in either whole ground walnut or an equivalent caloric amount of either flax seed oil or corn oil.
The amount of walnut in the diet was equivalent to two servings for a human or around 20% of a 2000 calorie/day diet.
The mice fed flax oil or walnut showed improvement in terms of smaller tumor size and less tumor proliferation. These results were determined by measuring the size of tumors after the experimental period was concluded and measuring the animals blood for signs of tumor proliferation, respectively.
Additionally, the mice fed walnut also showed decreased angiogenesis while the flax fed mice did not. Angiogenesis is a process by which new blood vessels are grown off of existing ones, and cancer cells use this process to bring more blood, and with it more nutrients, to the tumor site. This is measured by microscopic examination of the tumor or by testing blood serum for metabolic markers.
Interrupting this angiogenesis disrupts a key metabolic step in tumor proliferation and can help to slow or prevent tumor growth.
Though more trials are needed, this study is a good step towards achieving effective nutritional therapy and nutritional prevention of colorectal cancer.
On the other hand, eating a few extra handfuls of walnuts each week is a delicious experiment anyone can conduct.
This observational study was published in the January 2012 issue of Nutrition Journal.