A 6.5-year-long study followed 826 people who had been diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread to their lymph nodes and been treated with chemotherapy and radiation. The researchers found that those who ate at least two one-ounce servings of tree nuts per week gained a 42 percent reduced rate of cancer recurrence and and a 57 percent reduced risk for death during the study period (J Clin Oncol, 2018 Apr 10;36(11):1112-1120). Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashews and pistachios. This study did not show the same benefits from eating peanuts or peanut butter, but other studies have associated peanuts, as well as tree nuts, with reduced colon cancer risk. The lead author said, "Our study is an important contribution to the idea that modifying diet and physical activity may be beneficial" for colon cancer survivors. See Lifestyle Changes to Help Treat Cancer.
Many studies have shown that the typical Western Diet that is high in sugar, red meat, processed meats and fried foods is associated with a marked increased risk for colon cancer (JAMA, Aug 15, 2007;298(7):754-64). Nuts may help to prevent colon cancer recurrences after treatment by lowering high blood sugar levels, which are a major risk factor for developing colon cancer in the first place (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2012 Nov 21;104(22):1702-11).
Just about every risk factor for colon cancer is also a risk factor for heart attacks. Results from The Doctors' Study and others that have followed more than 120,000 health professionals for many years, show that the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to suffer heart attacks (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Nov 2017;70(2)). Eating nuts is associated with reduced death rates from heart attacks and all causes (JAMA Intern Med, May 2015;175(5):755-66; Br J Nutr, 2016 Jan 28;115(2):212-25). See my report on Good News About Nuts and Peanuts.
Nuts are part of a healthful diet that may well help to prevent and treat colon cancer. What you do after you are diagnosed with cancer can have a major impact on your recovery and long-term survival. People who have been diagnosed with any type of cancer should:
• eat a healthful plant-based diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds
• severely restrict meat from mammals, processed meats, fried foods, sugar added foods and all sugared drinks including fruit juices
• avoid being overweight
• avoid smoke and alcohol
• keep blood hydroxy vitamin D levels above 20 ng/ml