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Nuts increase survival chances of prostate cancer patients

Men who eat relatively large amounts of nuts develop prostate cancer just as often as men who eat no nuts. But among men who already have prostate cancer, a diet that is rich in nuts can boost their survival chances, write epidemiologists at the University of Harvard in the British Journal of Cancer.

The researchers used data on 47,299 men that had been gathered over a 26-year period in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Of the men, 6,810 developed prostate cancer.

The consumption of nuts had no influence on whether someone developed cancer or not. But among the men who had had prostate cancer diagnosed at an early stage (and who did not have any secondary growths) those who ate nuts after the diagnosis had higher survival chances.

Nuts increase survival chances of prostate cancer patients

The figure above shows the relationship between nut intake and total survival chances. The researchers found no relationship between eating nuts and the cancer mortality rate.

The researchers corrected their statistics for the effect of all factors they could think of, including age, height, energy intake, BMI, physical activity, smoking, hereditary predisposition, ethnicity, other disorders, the use of supplements and diet.

Nuts increase survival chances of prostate cancer patients
You'll probably make more sense of the data if you understand that in developed countries most men who have prostate no longer die from prostate cancer, but from other complaints such as cardiovascular disease. [Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Sep 5;104(17):1335-42.] According to epidemiological studies nuts protect against all sorts of ways of dying, including from cardiovascular disease.

"Nut consumption was not associated with prostate cancer incidence or prostate cancer specific mortality in this large and prospective cohort of men," the researchers wrote. "However, frequent nut consumption was associated with significantly lower overall mortality rate among men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer."

The American government was the main sponsor of this study, but part of the money came from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation.

Br J Cancer. 2016 Jul 26;115(3):371-4.

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