Walnuts slow prostate tumors in mice

March 22, 2010

Walnut consumption slows the growth of prostate cancer in mice and has beneficial effects on multiple genes related to the control of tumor growth and metabolism, UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. have found.

The study, by Paul Davis, nutritionist in the Department of Nutrition and a researcher with the UC Davis Cancer Center, announced the findings today at the annual national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Davis said the research findings provide additional evidence that , although high in fat, are healthful.

"This study shows that when mice with prostate tumors consume an amount of walnuts that could easily be eaten by a man, tumor growth is controlled," he said. "This leaves me very hopeful that it could be beneficial in patients."

affects one in six American men. It is one in which , especially diet, play an important role. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that eating walnuts -- rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants and other plant chemicals -- decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. These findings prompted the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2004 to approve, for the first time, a qualified health claim for reducing heart disease risk for a whole food.

Davis fed a diet with whole walnuts to mice that had been genetically programmed to get prostate cancer. After 18 weeks, they found that consuming the human equivalent of 2.4 ounces of walnuts per day resulted in significantly smaller, slower-growing prostate tumors compared to mice consuming the same diet with an equal amount of fat, but not from walnuts. They also found that not only was prostate cancer growth reduced by 30 to 40 percent, but that the mice had lower blood levels of a particular protein, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which has been strongly associated with prostate cancer. Additionally, Davis and his research colleagues looked at the effect of walnuts on gene activity in the prostate tumors using whole mouse gene chip technology, and found beneficial effects on multiple genes related to controlling and metabolism.

"This is another exciting study from UC Davis nutrition researchers, where truly promising results that have a molecular footprint are having beneficial effects against cancer," said Ralph deVere White, UC Davis Cancer Center director and a prostate cancer researcher. "We have to find a way to get these kinds of studies on nutritional products funded so that we can truly evaluate their effects on cancer patients."

Davis, whose research was funded by a grant to UC Davis from the California Walnut Board, said additional research is needed to further explore how walnuts reduce tumor cell growth.

"The bottom line is that what is good for the heart -- walnuts -- may be good for the prostate as well," he said.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Promising new treatment for rare pregnancy cancer leads to remission in patients

November 24, 2017
An immunotherapy drug can be used to cure women of a rare type of cancer arising from pregnancy when existing treatments have failed.

Researchers unravel novel mechanism by which tumors grow resistant to radiotherapy

November 23, 2017
A Ludwig Cancer Research study has uncovered a key mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to radiation therapy and shown how such resistance might be overcome with drugs that are currently under development. The discovery ...

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

One in four U.S. seniors with cancer has had it before

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—For a quarter of American seniors, a cancer diagnosis signals the return of an old foe, new research shows.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Mar 22, 2010
English walnuts or black walnuts?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.