Having type 2 diabetes mellitus is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. If we are looking to assure primary prevention, then it is therefore sensible to look at preventing type 2 diabetes. Regularly consuming nuts has already been proven to be linked with reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in various studies. Thus, this also has an influence on the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
In a study from 2013, US researchers investigated the link between nut consumption and developing pancreatic cancer. To this end, they evaluated data from 75,680 women that were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. The Nurses’ Health Study is a longitudinal study executed by the USA that has made many significant contributions to looking at nutrition and cancer risk factors for women. Thousands of nurses have been surveyed on their eating habits and health status and sometimes undergo clinical examinations every two years since 1976, within the scope of the study. For the present data evaluation, participants that had already had cancer were excluded. Nut consumption was recorded at the start of the study and updated every 2 to 4 years.
Results: The researchers documented 466 cases of pancreatic cancer. Women who ate a 28 gram portion of nuts twice a week had a far lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer in comparison to those who largely avoided nuts. This result only changed slightly when the criteria of body mass index (BMI) and pre-existing diabetes mellitus were factored in. Conclusion: In this large cohort of women, the study showed that frequent nut consumption may have preventive potential on the risk of pancreatic cancer, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
In any case, this type of study only indicates statistical correlations. Further studies were required in order to research influences in other groups, e.g. in men. In 2018, Dutch researchers looked at data from the Netherlands Cohort Study to investigate the influence that nut consumption has on the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. In contrast to the 2013 US study, consumption of peanut butter was also included here. The Dutch researchers found that nuts and peanut butter can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in men. However, no definite correlation could be established for women in this study.
Source: Bao Y et al.: Nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in women. British Journal of Cancer 109, 2911-2916 (26 November 2013) | doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.665