Study shows nut consumption can reduce risk of cancer, among other diseases

Study showed that there was a 19% and 18% reduction in the relative risk of heart disease and cancer with a higher nut intake.  Photo: iStock/RTsubin

A study recently published on BMC Medicine concluded that higher nut consumption is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, total cancer, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes and infections.

The study was led by researchers from Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The research team analyzed 29 studies that involved up to 819,448 participants around the world. All studies were among mainly adult populations.

In 2013, an estimated 4.4 million deaths may be attributable to a nut intake below 20 grams per day in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific, researchers said.

The benefits of nuts

The aggregated study showed there was a 19% and 18% reduction in the relative risk of heart disease and cancer with a higher nut intake. It is noted the study included all kinds of tree nuts, such as hazelnuts and walnuts.

An average of at least 20 grams of nut consumption was also associated with a reduced risk of dying from diabetes by nearly 40%, according to the study.

Nuts and pecans are high in fiber, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats – all the nutrients that can reduce cholesterol levels, co-author of the study, Dagfinn Aune, said. Some nuts, like walnuts and pecans, are also high in antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk.

Researchers also found that if people consumed more than 20 grams of nuts per day, there was little evidence of further health improvement.


BMC Medicine

‘Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies’

Authors: Dagfinn Aune, NaNa Keum, Edward Giovannucci, Lars T. Fadnes, Paolo Boffetta, Darren C. Greenwood, Serena Tonstad, Lars J. Vatten, Elio Riboli and Teresa Norat

DOI: 10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3

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