Girls who eat more peanut butter could improve their breast health later in life. That's according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard Medical School. The research shows that girls ages 9 to 15 who regularly ate peanut butter or nuts were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease by age 30.
Benign breast disease, although noncancerous, increases risk of breast cancer later in life. "These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," said senior author 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.
The research was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Colditz also is the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.
He led the study with Catherine Berkey, MA, ScD, a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The findings are based on the health histories of 9,039 U.S. girls enrolled in The Growing Up Today Study from 1996 through 2001. Later, from 2005 through 2010, when the study participants were 18 to 30 years old, they reported whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed by breast biopsy. The researchers found that 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.