According to a report by Health Day News on Friday, eating peanut butter regularly as a preteen or teen girl appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast tumors as an adult.
New research, carried out on more than 9,000 females between the ages of 9 to 15 in 1996 until 2010 when they were young women found that eating peanut butter three days a week reduced the risk of developing benign breast disease by 39 percent.
The study participants were part of a long-term, ongoing study on the health effects of diet and exercise in young people. They filled out questionnaires about their diet annually from 1996 until 2001, then four more times until 2010. They also reported if they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease. In all, 112 women said they had.
The researchers found a link between eating peanut butter and lower breast disease risk, not a cause-and-effect relationship, and Colditz said he can't explain yet why the peanut butter seems protective.
"It could well be the protein," senior study author Dr. Graham Colditz said. In previous studies, the researchers have looked at other factors of a healthy diet, such as milk consumption, and their role in breast health. The peanut butter finding, he said, is strong, even when taking into account an overall healthy diet. "It's not something we can make go away," he said.
Benign breast disease is noncancerous changes in the breast tissue, which is a risk factor for breast cancer. Colditz said:
I think this gives us enormous hope there are strategies we could be following to help prevent breast cancer that we haven't capitalized on yet,"
Benign breast disease is fairly common, and a known risk factor for breast cancer, Colditz said. Before menopause, "about one in four women have a benign lesion, confirmed by biopsy," he said. "It's very clear there is a strong link between the benign lesion and the subsequent risk of invasive breast cancer."
Depending on the characteristics of the benign lesion, he said, benign breast disease could increase breast cancer risk by threefold.
Another expert who reviewed the findings said the study is well done.
Dr. Steven Chen, an associate clinical professor of breast and endocrine surgery at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif., said that while lowering benign breast disease does lower breast cancer risk, many other factors increase breast cancer risk besides benign breast disease.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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