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Peanut Butter Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Disease

Peanut Butter Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Disease

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Study shows regularly eating peanut butter linked to lower risk of breast disease


A recent study says girls who eat peanut butter twice a week have a lower risk of developing breast disease later in life.

Peanut butter is pretty delicious, especially in cookies or spread on hot toast, and it turns out peanut butter might actually be offering significant health benefits to people who partake regularly, as a recent study shows girls who ate peanut butter regularly during their youths had a significantly reduced risk of breast disease.

Benign breast disease is a noncancerous disease, but it increases the risk of a patient developing breast cancer later in life. The Washington University School of Medicine began the study in 1996, looking at 9,039 U.S. girls between the ages of 9 and 15 and tracking their eating habits over the years. According to the data, the girls who reported eating peanut butter twice a week had a 39 percent lower risk of developing benign breast disease. The effect was particularly notable in the cases of girls with a family history of breast cancer.

"These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," the study's lead author said in a statement.

According to the Huffington Post, the scientists say other sources of vegetable fat and protein could offer the same benefits, but there was not as much data available as for peanut butter.

The study is ongoing, but for now it's good news for peanut butter lovers. Check out some of our best peanut butter recipes for some interesting ways to get a dose or two.

Eating Peanut Butter Could Prevent Future Breast Disease

Girls who grow up eating PB&Js could be doing their breast health a favor.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School found an association between regularly eating peanut butter and having a lower risk of developing benign breast disease in early adulthood. Benign breast disease is noncancerous, and occurs when there are changes to the breast or an injury or infection leads to lumps in the breast tissue. The research team did not investigate a link between peanut butter and malignant breast lumps or cancer.

Other sources of vegetable fats and proteins -- such as soybeans, beans and lentils -- could also have the same effect, but researchers noted that the data on these particular foods in the study was not as abundant as data on peanut butter.

It's important to note that the study only showed an association between peanut butter consumption and breast disease, and doesn't show that peanut butter can definitively prevent breast disease.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, included health data on 9,039 U.S. girls ages 9 to 15 who were recruited to the Growing Up Today Study in 1996. They filled out food-frequency questionnaires once a year from their recruitment year until 2001, and then biennially until 2010.

In 2005, researchers also started keeping track of benign breast disease diagnoses among the study participants, who had entered adulthood and were now between ages 18 and 30. Researchers found that 112 of them had developed the condition.

Researchers found that eating peanut butter twice a week during childhood/adolescences was linked with a 39 percent lower risk of developing benign breast disease, and this effect seemed especially strong among girls who had a family history of breast cancer.

Of course, nuts have a wide range of other health benefits, too. To find out more, click here.

6 Reasons You Should Remove Peanut and Peanut Butter from Your Diet

1. Peanut Butter Could Contain Trans Fats

When you purchase peanut butter, always check the label. Like with any processed product, the fewer ingredients, the better. With a lot of generic peanut butter brands, sugar and hydrogenated (trans) fats are typically added for flavor.

2. Natural Peanut Butter Isn’t Better

The better peanut butter brands on the market include those with only peanuts and a little salt and are either natural or organic—or so you think. That’s because even in its most natural form, peanut butter is still detrimental to your health. It is more susceptible to toxic mold growth because it is less processed, which is ironic.

Society thinks the more natural, the better. In most cases this is true however, all commercially produced peanut butter must go through aflatoxin testing before going to market. This is true, even if it is natural, organic, or straight from the ground.

3. Toxic Fungus Allergies

So, you’re allergic to peanuts. No, you’re not—you’re allergic to the toxic fungus found within the peanut. Peanuts are one of eight major food allergens in the U.S. The peanut allergy can usually be linked to the natural mold aflatoxin, which can damage the liver.

It is also a potent carcinogen, which can potentially cause cancer. Removing this so-called healthy food from your diet also means you are cutting down on the toxic load exposure from the environment.

4. Peanut Crops Are Heavily Contaminated with Pesticides

Other than aflatoxin, there are even more nutty problems to worry about. Non-organic peanuts and peanut butters are also contaminated with pesticides. This is a concern because peanuts have a very light shell, which can easily leach to outside materials. Conventional peanuts have a very high pesticide rate, as well as other chemical contaminants.

5. Too Much Omega-6

Omega-6, or linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid, and is normally an important component for cardiovascular health, mental function, and energy production. But when your omega-6 is too high, it can result in inflammation.

This is a huge problem when every day you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every 28 g (one-ounce serving) of peanuts contains 4,000 mg of omega-6. It’s more difficult to obtain omega-3 in the conventional diet with fish and flaxseed being primary sources.

6. Oxalates Cause Health Risks

Peanuts also contain another natural substance called oxalates. When we eat peanuts or peanut butter and the oxalates become too concentrated in the body’s fluids, they will crystallize and lead to health problems. It is recommended that people with gallbladder issues or with untreated or existing kidney problems avoid peanuts.

If you eat peanut butter every day, your cholesterol levels may improve

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 94.6 million American adults (roughly 40 percent) have total cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl or higher. Additionally, of those folks, 28.5 million (about 12 percent) have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dl. If you're looking to get your cholesterol levels down into healthy territory, you may want to consider eating a serving of peanut butter every day. "Peanut butter contains healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats," registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller told The List. "Monounsaturated fats can help increase the good cholesterol in the body."

That's not all, either. Making peanut butter a daily staple in your diet can also help to lower your LDL or "bad" cholesterol, as noted by Harvard University. That's all the more reason to chow down on a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread for a super fulfilling, healthy lunch.

Vegetable protein and vegetable fat intakes in pre-adolescent and adolescent girls, and risk for benign breast disease in young women

Previous investigations, of adolescent diet recalled in adulthood, found lower risk for benign breast disease (BBD) with higher intakes of vegetable fat and nuts during high school. We investigate whether vegetable protein and fat, derived from diets reported during pre-adolescence and adolescence, are associated with subsequent risk for BBD in young women. The Growing Up Today Study includes 9,039 females, 9-15 years in 1996, who completed questionnaires annually through 2001, and then in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2010. Food frequency questionnaires (1996-2001) obtained intake data on a variety of foods. Beginning in 2005, women (18-30 years) reported whether they had ever been diagnosed with BBD that was confirmed by breast biopsy (n = 112 cases). Logistic regression estimated associations between intakes of vegetable protein and fat and biopsy-confirmed BBD. Those individual foods that were the largest contributors of protein and fat in this cohort were also investigated. In analyses of intakes from 1996 through 1998, when our cohort was youngest, vegetable fat (OR = 0.72/(10 gm/day), 95 % CI 0.53-0.98 p = 0.04) was inversely associated with BBD risk. The greatest sources of vegetable fat and protein in these girls were peanut butter, peanuts, nuts, beans (beans, lentils, and soybeans), and corn. A daily serving of any one of these was associated with lower risk (OR = 0.32/(serv/day), 95 % CI 0.13-0.79 p = 0.01). Peanut butter (and nuts) at age 11 years was inversely associated with risk (p = 0.01). In analyses of intakes at age 14 years, vegetable protein was associated with lower BBD risk (OR = 0.64/(10 gm/day), 95 % CI 0.43-0.95 p = 0.03). A daily serving at 14 years of any one of the foods was associated with lower risk (OR = 0.34, 95 % CI 0.16-0.75 p = 0.01), as was peanut butter (and nuts) (p = 0.02). Girls with a family history of breast cancer had significantly lower risk if they consumed these foods or vegetable fat. In conclusion, consumption of vegetable protein, fat, peanut butter, or nuts by older girls may help reduce their risk of BBD as young women.

By Dawn Flemming

Peanut butter has gotten a bad rap because it is high in calories. There are other reasons why. Many commercial peanut butters are high in sugar, sodium and processed vegetable oils which turn an otherwise healthy food into something unhealthy.

But if you’re able to get your hands on the healthy brands of peanut butter, such as the organic forms sold at Trader Joe’s, then you can benefit from it quite a bit if you consume it moderately. The beneficial effects of healthy peanut butter are especially relevant to the elderly.

Here are three benefits that seniors can take from peanut butter:

Weight Loss

A 2018 study showed that people who ate nuts over a period of 5 years were much less likely to be obese and had reduced weight gain.

What is popular nowadays is that people are consuming peanut butter in its powdered form.

But remember that the powdered form of peanut butter, although much lower in calories, has had its fat and oil pressed out of it which are critical components of satiety. It is the satiety factor of peanut butter that led people to reduced weight gain.

Heart Health

Peanuts butter has the right mix of key nutrients that are important for heart health. According to Medical News Today, the following are the health benefits of peanut butter for the heart:

Peanut butter contains many nutrients that can improve heart health, including:

The proportion of unsaturated fats (PUFAs and MUFAs) to saturated fats in the diet plays a particularly important role in heart health. Peanut butter has a similar ratio to olive oil — which is also known as a heart-healthy option.

A high intake of nuts may have links to a reduced risk of mortality from heart disease or other causes. The researchers recommend peanuts in particular as a cost-effective way to improve heart health for some people.

Research also suggests that including 46 g per day of peanuts or peanut butter into an American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet plan for 6 months could benefit the heart, improve blood lipid profiles, and control weight for people with diabetes.

As noted in the introduction of this article, peanut butter must be consumed in moderation as it is high in calories. You also need to make sure to get unsalted peanut butter as it may adversely affect your heart.

Breast Disease

The consumption of peanut butter has been associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer as it overall reduces the rates of benign breast diseases which can be pre-markers for breast cancer. According to this study, it seems that the critical factor involved is the fat from peanuts. As such, simply consuming powdered peanut butter (whose fat and oil has been pressed out) may not be as beneficial as the real thing.

Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.

Crazy Richard's Creamy Peanut Butter

Ingredients: Peanuts

According to Crazy Richard's, they sneak in 540 peanuts into each jar of peanut butter—and nothing else! "My favorite peanut butter brand only has one ingredient: peanuts," says registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club and owner of "Crazy Richard's peanut butter has no added oil, salt or sugar for those looking for the purest product. You can always add a touch of salt if you wish but for people limiting sodium and sugar due to medical conditions or dietary preferences, Crazy Richard's is a fabulous choice. "

Apples: Linked with Lower Risk of (ER-) Breast Cancer

Apples provide dietary fiber and polyphenol compounds that partner with gut microbes to create an environment that may help to reduce the risk of cancer. Observational population studies link apples with a lower risk of the estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) form of breast cancer.

Interpreting the data

After a systematic review of the global scientific literature, AICR/WCRF analyzed how fruits and their nutrients affect the risk of developing cancer.

“Convincing” or “probable” evidence means there is strong research showing a causal relationship to cancer—either decreasing or increasing the risk. The research must include quality human studies that meet specific criteria and biological explanations for the findings.

A convincing or probable judgement is strong enough to justify recommendations.

  • There is probable evidence that foods containing dietary fiber DECREASE the risk of:
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Weight gain, overweight and obesity*

    *This is important, because there is strong evidence that excess body fat increases the risk of at least 12 different cancers.

    • There is probable evidence that non-starchy vegetables and fruit combined DECREASE the risk of:
      • Aerodigestive cancers overall (such as mouth, pharynx and larynx esophageal lung stomach and colorectal cancers)

      “Limited suggestive” evidence means results are generally consistent in overall conclusions, but it’s rarely strong enough to justify recommendations to reduce risk of cancer.

      • Limited evidence suggests that fruit may DECREASE the risk of:
        • Lung cancer (in people who smoke or used to smoke tobacco) and squamous cell esophageal cancer

        Ongoing Areas of Investigation

        Flavonols influence gene expression and cell signaling in ways that increase antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and carcinogen-deactivating enzymes in cell and animal studies. They inhibit cancer cells’ growth, suppress ability to spread and activate signaling that leads to self-destruction of abnormal cells. Flavonols dial down the expression of oncogenes (genes that have the potential to cause increased cell growth that can lead to cancer) and increase the expression of tumor suppressor genes.

        F lavan-3-ols influence gene expression and cell signaling in ways that increase antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and carcinogen-deactivating enzymes in cell and animal studies. They inhibit cancer cells’ growth, suppress ability to spread and activate signaling that leads to self-destruction of abnormal cells. They dial down the expression of oncogenes (genes that have the potential to cause increased cell growth that can lead to cancer) and increase the expression of tumor suppressor genes.

        T riterpenoids, such as those found in the peel of apples, can increase antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and carcinogen deactivating enzymes by influencing cell signaling pathways and gene expression in cell and animal studies. They decrease growth and increase the self-destruction of cancer cells.

        Human studies related to apples and cancer risk compare groups of people who consume relatively high and low amounts of total fruit, dietary fiber or apples specifically.

        People who eat more fruits have a lower risk of several types of cancer. This probably reflects combined protection from many different nutrients and compounds they contain.

        Greater consumption of apples specifically was associated with a lower risk of estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer (but not ER+) in an analysis of many population studies, and with a lower risk of lung cancer in another analysis. This analysis also showed links between apples and lower risk of other cancers, but not in the type of studies (prospective cohorts) considered the strongest.

        Dietary fiber: Observational population studies link high dietary fiber consumption with reduced risk of colorectal cancer. One analysis of multiple prospective studies also links dietary fiber with a lower risk of breast cancer. However, analysis for the AICR/WCRF Third Expert Report considered the potential for an association of dietary fiber and this and several other cancers and found the evidence too limited to support a conclusion.

        It can help prevent heart disease


        Besides providing many vitamins and minerals, nut butter sandwiches also help protect your body against many diseases, including heart disease. According to Harvard Health Medical Publishing, various studies have reflected that people who include nuts or peanut butter in their diets have less of a chance of developing heart disease compared to those who don't eat nuts often.

        Nuts and peanuts -- but not peanut butter -- linked to lower mortality rates, study finds

        A paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology confirms a link between peanut and nut intake and lower mortality rates, but finds no protective effect for peanut butter. Men and women who eat at least 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day have a lower risk of dying from several major causes of death than people who don't consume nuts or peanuts.

        The reduction in mortality was strongest for respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease, and diabetes, followed by cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The effects are equal in men and women. Peanuts show at least as strong reductions in mortality as tree nuts, but peanut butter is not associated with lower mortality, researchers from Maastricht University found.

        This study was carried out within the Netherlands Cohort Study, which has been running since 1986 among over 120,000 Dutch 55-69 year old men and women. Nut consumption was assessed by asking about portion size and frequency of intake of peanuts, other nuts (tree nuts), and peanut butter. The researchers from Maastricht University analyzed the relationship with overall and cause-specific mortality since 1986.

        The associations between nuts and peanut intake and cardiovascular death confirm earlier results from American and Asian studies that were often focused on cardiovascular diseases. However, in this new study, it was found that mortality due to cancer, diabetes, respiratory, and neurodegenerative diseases was also lowered among users of peanuts and nuts. Project leader and epidemiologist Professor Piet van den Brandt commented: "It was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15 grams of nuts or peanuts on average per day (half a handful). A higher intake was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk. This was also supported by a meta-analysis of previously published studies together with the Netherlands Cohort Study, in which cancer and respiratory mortality showed this same dose-response pattern."

        Peanuts and tree nuts both contain various compounds such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, various vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds, that possibly contribute to the lower death rates. In contrast to peanuts, no association was found between peanut butter intake and mortality risk. However, besides peanuts, peanut butter contains also added components like salt and vegetable oils. In the past, it has been shown that peanut butter contains trans fatty acids and therefore the composition of peanut butter is different from peanuts. The adverse health effects of salt and trans fatty acids could inhibit the protective effects of peanuts.


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