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Women’s Study: Eating Tree Nuts Reduces Pancreatic Cancer Risk


According to a long-term women’s health study recently published, women in the study who ate a 1-oz. serving of tree nuts two or more times a week had a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those studied who did not include nuts in their diet. This is the first study to measure the association between pancreatic cancer risk and nut consumption. Pistachios were among the tree nuts included in the study.

More than 75,600 women were followed in the widely-recognized Nurses’ Health Study. It shows that those who consumed a 28-gram (1 oz.) serving of nuts two or more times per week, significantly reduced their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, the fourth most common cause for cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

Results of this large prospective cohort study can be found online in the British Journal of Cancer. The lead author is Dr. Ying Bao of the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. Bao says these results were independent of established or suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer—including age, height, obesity, physical activity, smoking, diabetes and dietary factors. Also, participants could have no previous history of cancer.

In addition to pistachios, the nuts consumed by the women in the nurses study included almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts. Documentation began in 1980 with followup every four years through 2010. The study also showed that women with more frequent nut consumption were generally leaner, more likely to exercise, and less likely to smoke. Earlier studies have linked tree nut consumption to a reduced risk for diabetes.

The long-running Nurses’ Health Study was funded by research grants from the National Institutes of Health. This study specifically examining the association between tree nut consumption and pancreatic cancer was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and by a grant from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. It also was supported in part by a micro-grant from the Biomedical Research Institute at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. State cancer registries also helped with the study. The sponsors did not participate in the design and analysis or any other parts of the study or approval of the manuscript.

Pistachio facts

Pistachios are nutrient rich and full of antioxidants, vitamins, protein and fiber. A 1-oz. serving of pistachios equals 49 nuts, more per serving than any other snack nut. They are cholesterol free and contain just 1.5g of saturated fat and 13g of fat per serving, the majority of which comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. In addition, they contain a significant amount of potassium, 300mg per serving.

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