The Missing Link: Pecans and Breast Cancer

The Missing Link: Pecans and Breast Cancer

Pecan Nutrition

Breast cancer is rapidly becoming one of the most rampant forms of cancer. At a ratio of one in every eight women, twelve percent of American women are likely to develop breast cancer throughout their lifetime. As such, researchers are constantly on the lookout for factors that may contribute to the treatment of breast cancer, and to reduce the risk of it developing in the first place. Current research points to a possible link between pecans and breast cancer.

Pecans To Fight Cancer

Yes, you heard correctly. I’m not talking about a pecan fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, but actual pecan nuts. Those crunchy, buttery, flavorful nuts may actually include a substance that eats away cancerous cells. Although this study is still in its beginning stages, it is well worth a look.

This data is based on a study conducted in Northwestern University of Chicago by Menendez and others (click here and here for more information). The study describes the unique activity of a substance called Oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Oleic acid is commonly found in animal fats and vegetable oils, with large concentrations found in olives, avocados, and various nuts including pecans. It has been associated with various health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease.

Researchers discovered that with regards to breast cancer, oleic acid inhibits cancerous cell activity, causing these cells to become virtually dormant. This is true for a specific breast cancer gene, called Her-2/neu, which is responsible for thirty percent of breast cancer cases. Patients who were treated with oleic acid in addition to standard cancer treatment protocol showed fifty percent less cancer cell activity in comparison to similar patients who did not receive oleic acid supplements. In addition, when coupled with a breast cancer drug called Herceptin, the drug’s effectiveness was maximized, thus causing optimal results.

The above study analyzed oleic acid using olive oil, a common source of oleic acid. Further studies confirmed that it in fact was the oleic acid, and not some other factor associated with olive oil that brought these results. However, pecans may be a much better source of oleic acid than olive oil. The fatty acid composition of olive oil and pecan nuts is quite similar. Pecans are comprised of 65-70% oils, of this around 73% is oleic acid. In fact, a single serving (one ounce) of pecans has 25% more oleic acid than a tablespoon of olive oil. In order to optimize the body’s absorption of this substance, it is recommended to intersperse eating pecan nuts throughout the day, rather than a single dose.

In addition to the possibility of pecan nuts reducing cancerous cell activity, a balanced diet which includes pecan nuts may aid in strengthening the body’s as it goes through rigorous cancer treatment. Chemotherapy causes a severe blow to the immune system, in addition to a general depletion of body nutrients. Harsh diseases, such as cancer, often drain the body of white blood cells and immune proteins.

Pecan nuts, as a storehouse for numerous essential nutrients, could serve as a helpful supplement for restoring essential vitamins and minerals, thus making the body better able to defend itself. Pecans nuts are rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, manganese, selenium, calcium magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B complex, zinc, and more. Almost all of these antioxidants are known to specifically strengthen the immune system through enhancing white blood cell activity and giving an overall boost to the immune system. Furthermore, pecan antioxidants actively destroy free radicals found in the body, thus reducing the risk of cancer development.

All being said, although more research is needed to form a stronger basis for the claim that pecans are conducive towards battling breast cancer, results seem promising. In addition, substances found in pecans can also help support the body on its journey back to health, as a supplement to a balanced diet. As breast cancer is such a widespread disease, there has been a lot of work put into raising awareness and fundraising for cancer research. For anyone out there searching for an idea on how to join the cause, here’s an idea- go on a pecan fundraiser. Raise awareness for breast cancer while selling a product that potentially could contribute to its cure.

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