Eating nuts has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Now, new findings from South Korea suggest that a nut-rich diet may also reduce a person’s risk of colon cancer.
The researchers found a reduction in this risk for both men and women, according to the findings, presented here today (April 18) at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting.
Eating a serving of nuts three or more times a week appeared to have a big effect on risk, said Dr. Aesun Shin, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea and an author of the study.
In the study, a serving of nuts was considered to be 15 grams (0.5 ounces), Shin told Live Science. That’s a smaller amount than what’s considered a serving in the United States, she added. (A serving in the U.S. is 28 g, or 1 oz.)
Although the researchers included many types of nuts in their analysis, peanuts were the most widely consumed nuts among people in the study. This may be due to the availability of peanuts in South Korea, the researchers said.
To examine the relationship between eating nuts and colon cancer risk, the researchers looked at 923 patients who had been diagnosed with colon cancer and compared their diets with those of 1,846 people who did not have colon cancer.
The researchers found that men who reported eating three or more servings of nuts a week had a 69 percent lower risk of colon cancer than those who reported eating no nuts. Women who ate three or more servings had an 81 percent lower risk than those who ate no nuts, according to the study.
In addition, the researchers looked at several different types of colon cancer, based on the location in the colon where the cancer is found. Nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk across all of the different locations that the researchers examined, Shin said.
The study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between eating nuts and having a lower risk of colon cancer, the researchers said. However, the researchers hypothesized that some of the compounds, including fiber and antioxidants, found in nuts may help reduce a person’s risk of colon cancer.
Shin noted that a limitation of the study is that participants were asked to recall their own nut intake, and it’s possible that they may have made mistakes.