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Sep 26, 2013 11:22 AM EDT

Peanut Butter Proven to Lower Benign Breast Diseases in Women When Consumed as Adolescents


New research from suggests women can lessen their risk of breast disease later in life by eating peanut butter, according to a Washington University news release.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, was conducted by researchers form Washington University School of Medicine Harvard Medical School.

The study said girls aged nine to 15 become less likely to develop benign breast disease by 30 by eating peanut butter or peanuts regularly. A benign breast disease does not always have to be cancerous, but it will increase the risk of breast cancer should someone contract one.

"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.

Colditz and Catherine Berkey, MA, ScD, a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, based their findings on 9,039 girls in the Growing Up Today study, which was conducted from 1996 to 2001. For this study, the participants reported from 2005 to 2010, when they were all aged 18 to 30, if they had contracted a benign breast disease.

The researchers found those who reported eating peanuts or peanut butter at least two times a week were 39 percent less likely to come down with a breast disease. Their findings also suggest lentils, soybeans and corn also help, but the consumption in the participants was low and therefore offered flimsy evidence.

This study is not the first to link peanut consumption to lower breast disease risk. Peanut butter and vegetable fat consumption has previously been reported to lower the risk of benign breast disease, but in those studies, participants had to recall their eating habits from high school years later. This study tracked dietary habits with follow-ups.

Colditz recommended young girls eat peanut butter and peanuts, instead of sugary drinks and junk food, as a snack to combat both obesity and future breast disease.

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