Walnuts slow prostate cancer tumor growth in mice

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Walnuts, of all things, may help slow the growth of prostate cancer.

Scientists at the University of California, Davis and the USDA Western Regional Research Center in Albany, CA, conducted the study in mice genetically programmed to develop prostate cancer, and their findings are detailed in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Ordinarily, doctors recommend a low-fat diet for men at risk of developing prostate cancer, the researchers note. Such foods are also advised for guys who already have prostate cancer to slow tumor growth. Walnuts are high in fat, so the choice may seem counter-intuitive. But the research team believes walnuts can actually help slow tumor growth and, as a result, reduce the chance that the cancer will spread, because they are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants and other good stuff for the body.

Keep in mind, these tests took place in mice, and the positive results aren't necessarily easy to duplicate in people. But if they generate similar results in men, those lower-fat diets may need to be revised to include walnuts. Beyond a dietary choice, however, the research is yet another powerful example of the role that omega-3 fatty acids may ultimately play a role in medicine, either as a supplement the healthcare establishment endorses, or as part of a new kind of anti-cancer or multi-use drug.

Consider fish oil, another compound with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and long thought to benefit the heart. FierceBiotechResearch has told you in recent weeks about studies showing a compound derived from fish oil targets and kills leukemia stem cells in the spleen and bone marrow in mice, completely wiping out the disease. A subsequent study showed fish oil appeared to help counter nerve damage.

In the walnut-prostate cancer study, researchers found at 18 weeks the tumor weight of mice fed walnuts was about half that seen in subjects consuming a comparable soybean oil diet. Mice that ate walnuts also experienced a 28% slower growth rate in their tumors. What's more, the walnut-eating mice had lower levels of IGF-1, a protein linked to prostate cancer, and also lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which, in excess, can cause heart disease and has also been linked to tumor growth.

- here's the release
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