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Eat pistachios to cut down cancer risk

Eating pistachios daily can cut down the risk of lung and other cancers, according to a new study.

These nuts are known to produce a cholesterol-lowering effect and provide antioxidants that are typically found in food products of plant origin.

“It is known that vitamin E provides a degree of protection against certain forms of cancer. Higher intakes of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, may reduce the risk of lung cancer,” study author Ladia M. Hernandez said.

Hernandez, doctoral candidate at Texas Women’s University (TWU), and colleagues conducted a six-week controlled clinical trial to evaluate if the consumption of pistachios would increase dietary intake and serum levels of gamma-tocopherol.

The study, conducted at TWU, included 36 healthy participants who were randomised into either a control group or the intervention group, who were on a pistachio diet.

There were 18 participants each in the control and intervention group. There was a two-week baseline period, followed by a four-week intervention period in which the intervention group was provided with 68 grams (117 kernels) of pistachios daily. The control group continued with their normal diet.

Researchers found a significant increase in energy-adjusted dietary intake of gamma-tocopherol at weeks three and four in those on the pistachio diet, compared with those on the control diet.

A similar effect was seen at weeks five and six among those on the pistachio diet compared with those on the control diet.

A pistachio-rich diet could potentially help reduce the risk of other cancers from developing as well, said Hernandez. “Because epidemiologic studies suggest gamma-tocopherol is protective against prostate cancer, pistachio intake may help,” she added.

“Other food sources that are a rich source of gamma-tocopherol include nuts such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybean and corn oils,” Hernandez said.

“Pistachios are one of those ‘good-for-you’ nuts, and two ounces per day could be incorporated into dietary strategies designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer without significant changes in body mass index,” said Hernandez.

These data were presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference of the American Association for Cancer Research in Houston Dec 6-9.

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