New research indicates that older girls who regularly eat peanut butter, nuts, and other sources of vegetable protein and fat may reduce their risk of developing benign breast disease (BBD) by as much as 39 percent. The findings are based on data collected from over 9,000 girls and young women who participated in Growing Up Today, a long-term research study led by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. While BBD, which includes a range of conditions, such as cysts and benign tumors, is noncancerous, some forms of it can increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.Peanut butter is a delicious snack, but here's another incentive to dig into a jar of crunchy.
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The findings were based on the reported dietary habits of girls aged 9 to 15 between the years of 1996 to 2001. Later, from 2005 to 2010, the same participants reported whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed by a biopsy. Researchers found that girls who ate two regular servings of peanut butter or nuts per week were 39 percent less likely to be diagnosed with BBD by age 30. "These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," senior author Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine, and senior author of the study, tells Yahoo Shine.
For maximum protection, Colditz recommends that girls add two one ounce servings of peanuts or peanut butter to their diets on top of what they are already consuming each week. He says that for girls with nut allergies, “We looked at beans,lentils, and soybeans—other vegetable proteins—and we saw benefits there as well. It’s a pretty clear message that for many out there with allergies, you can eat other sources of vegetable proteins.”
In recent years, there has been a great deal of compelling evidence linking lifestyle habits to the prevention of breast cancer. A previous study, also conducted by Colditz, found that drinking alcohol during adolescence can increase a girl's risk of breast cancer by 11 percent. Other research suggests that:
- Regular exercise lowers women's breast cancer risk.
- Cutting out saturated fats can reduce risk.
- Avoiding smoking, especially for premenopausal women, may reduce risk.
- A plant-based diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables increases the chance of surviving breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of cancer.
- Avoiding refined sugar may help prevent early-stage breast cancer from metastasizing.
While the peanut study also reported that girls who regularly ate beans, lentils, soybeans, or corn had a reduced risk of BBD, the link was weaker because they consumed less in general. The researchers also looked at the consumption of dairy products and concluded it had no impact on risk.
While previous studies have also found a link between eating these foods and a lower risk of BBD, this is the first to use evidence reported while the participants were still adolescents. Because nuts are high in calories, Colditz suggests that girls eliminate any junk food snacks and sugary drinks that are already included in their diet in favor of eating nuts.
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