Colon Cancer Growth Slowed By Walnuts, New Study Suggests

First Posted: May 12, 2015 09:04 PM EDT

New findings published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggest that walnuts could help to slow the growth of colon cancer. Researchers found that a diet that threw in some walnuts to the mix helped to slow colorectal tumor growth, otherwise known as the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women. 

"Our research demonstrates that a walnut diet causes significant changes in the expression profile of miRNAs in localized colorectal cancer tissue, and that a walnut diet incorporates protective fatty acids in the colonic tumor either through its direct effects or through additive or synergistic effects of multiple other compounds present in walnuts," Dr. Christos Mantzoros said in a statement. "While future studies are needed, we're optimistic of the role of miRNAs as biomarkers of disease and prognosis, and may demonstrate a potential therapeutic target for colorectal cancer treatment."

For the study, researchers conducted an experiment with two groups of mice; one that was fed 2 ounces per day of walnuts (or the equivalent of two servings for humans) and the second, which was fed a similar control diet with no walnuts.

Twenty-five days later, researchers found that in walnut-fed mice, key miRNA may affect cancer cell inflammation, vascularization (blood supply) and proliferation's positive engagement.

Mice that received the walnut diet had 10 times the amount of total omega-3 fatty acids in their tumors when compared to plant-based alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the tissue from their tumors.

Furthermore, the study results showed that a smaller tumor size was associated with the walnut diet, which suggests that ALA may provide a protective benefit.

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