Girls who eat more peanut butter and nuts may be lowering their breast cancer risk later in life.
A new study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in September 2013 shows that girls who ate peanut butter or nuts regularly from the ages of 9 to 15 were less likely to develop benign or non-cancerous breast disease by the time they were 30 years old. Benign breast disease increases the risk of breast cancer.
"These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," senior author Graham Colditz, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, said in a press release.
Researchers studied 9,039 U.S. girls who were involved in the Growing Up Today Study that kicked off in 1996. They followed up with the girls when they were 18 to 30 years-old old to see if they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed through a biopsy.
While other studies have linked eating peanut butter, nut and vegetable to a lower risk of benign breast disease, this is the first study that did not ask subjects to recall what they had eaten years before, the authors noted. The Growing Up Today Study actually recorded what the girls ate during their adolescent years.
The researchers found that girls who ate peanut butter or nuts twice a week were 39 percent less likely to have the non-cancerous breast disease than those who never ate peanut butter or nuts. The link remained even if the girl had a family history of breast cancer.
There was also some evidence that beans, lentils, soybeans and corn may help prevent the non-cancerous illness, but girls did not eat these items in large quantities, so there wasn't strong evidence to support the claim.
Colditz recommends that girls snack on peanut butter or nuts instead of reaching for junk food or sugary drinks.