A recent study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that middle school and high school girls who eat more peanut butter and nuts are less likely to develop benign breast disease by the age of 30 compared to girls who rarely or never eat peanut butter and nuts.
Benign breast disease consists of lumps or tender areas with fibrous tissue or cysts. It’s not cancerous, but women and girls with the condition have an increased risk of developing breast cancer later on.
About the Study
For the study, Dr. Graham Colditz of Washington University School of Medicine led a team who assessed health data on over 9,000 American girls ages 9 to 15. The data included specific facts about what types of food the girls consumed, which they reported frequently in questionnaires.
Follow-up data from subsequent reports allowed Dr. Colditz’s team to reassess the girls at ages 18 to 30. These reports indicated whether any of them had been diagnosed with benign breast disease.
When the team compared the original food questionnaires and the diagnosis reports, they found that girls who consumed peanut butter or nuts two times per week in their youth were nearly 40 percent less likely than their peers to receive a benign breast disease diagnosis by the time they turned 30. This significant difference was seen across the board, including in girls with a family history of breast cancer. The researchers also concluded that older teenage girls who eat peanut butter and nuts may help lower their risk as well.
In addition to just peanut butter and nuts, the study suggested that corn, soy beans and other lentils may also be linked to reduced breast cancer risk. However, since these foods were less prevalent in the girls’ diets, the results were not as conclusive.
While other studies have linked vegetable fats with a lower risk of benign breast disease, this study is more comprehensive than past research. Dr. Colditz and his team had hard data from women’s diets in their adolescence, as opposed to simply asking diagnosed and undiagnosed women to recall what they ate in their youth.
As a final remark on the study’s findings, Dr. Colditz advises girls to eat more peanut butter and nuts and less junk food, not only to reduce their breast cancer risk, but to help prevent health-related problems that arise from obesity.