April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Peanut butter is one of childhood’s greatest pleasures, but a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard Medical School shows that girls who eat more peanut butter could improve their breast health in life.
The research, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, shows that girls aged 9 to 15 who regularly ate peanut butter or nuts were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease by age 30. Although noncancerous, benign breast disease increases the risk of breast cancer later in life.
“These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women,” said Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
Colditz, who is also the Niess-Gain Professor in Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, collaborated with Catherine Berkey, MA, ScD, a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The study data was collected from the health histories of 9,039 girls in the US who were enrolled in the Growing Up Today Study from 1996 through 2001. Between 2005 to 2010, when the subjects were 18 to 30 years old, they self-reported whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed by breast biopsy.
Participants who ate peanut butter or nuts two times each week were 39 percent less likely to have developed benign breast disease than those who never ate them, according to the study. Benign breast cancer disease might also be prevented by beans, lentils, soybeans and corn, the study shows, but consumption of these foods was much lower in these girls, making the evidence weaker.
Prior research has linked peanut butter, nut and vegetable fat consumption to a lower risk for benign breast disease. Participants in those studies, however, were asked to recall their high school dietary habits years later. This current study is the first to use reports made during adolescence, with continued follow-up as cases of benign breast disease are diagnosed in young women.
Colditz has recommended that girls replace high-calorie junk foods and sugary drinks with peanut butter and nuts because of the obesity epidemic in this country.