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Pistachios May Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer

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According to a recent study, adding pistachios to your diet may help lower your risk of lung cancer. However, researchers caution that more research is still needed.

Among the most commonly consumed nuts in the United States, pistachios also are one of the best dietary sources of gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E.

Results of a study aimed at discovering if these nuts have anti-cancer properties was presented in December 2009 at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research conference.

Conducting the study

The six-week controlled clinical trial investigated the effect of pistachio consumption on serum levels of gamma-tocopherol. It was divided into three two-week blocks, allowing for a two-week pre-intervention period and a four-week intervention period.

Involved in the study, conducted by researchers at M. D. Anderson and Texas Woman's University, were 36 healthy participants who were randomly assigned to either a normal diet or a diet consisting of 68 grams of pistachio per day. Data for each participant were recorded in a diet diary.

Results show promise

Participants in the pistachio-diet group showed a significant increase in energy-adjusted dietary intake of gamma-tocopherol at weeks three and four. At the end of the study, this group also had a significantly higher value of cholesterol-adjusted serum gamma-tocopherol compared to baseline.

Ladia Hernandez, senior research dietitian in the Department of Epidemiology and the study's first author, says this positive outcome shows promise of the anti-cancer properties of pistachios. "Because pistachios are a good source of gamma-tocopherol then eating them may help to decrease lung cancer risk," she says.

Pistachios are good for you

Although results are encouraging, Hernandez says the chemopreventative effects of pistachio consumption need further clarification. In particular, she says, the effects related to the targeted molecular pathways need to be studied.

However, she does recommend adding gamma-tocopherol to your diet. "Pistachios are one of those 'good-for-you' nuts, and 2 ounces per day could be incorporated into dietary strategies designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer without significant changes in body mass index," she says.

She also states that foods such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, soybean and corn oils are rich sources of gamma-tocopherol and could prove beneficial for your health as well

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