The data, from a large-scale prospective study, investigated the association between nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in more than 75,000 women who took part in the Nurses' Health Study, and had no previous history of cancer.
Writing in Nature's British Journal of Cancer, the team behind the new analysis reported that consumption of nuts - including tree nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts - was found to be inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
"Frequent nut consumption is inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer in this large prospective cohort of women, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer," explained the research team - led by Dr Ying Bao of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Bao and colleagues found that women who consumed a one-ounce serving of nuts two or more times per week had a 35% lower risk of pancreatic cancer when compared to those who largely abstained from nuts.
"This reduction in risk was independent of established or suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer including age, height, obesity, physical activity, smoking, diabetes and dietary factors," said Bao.
Bao and colleagues analysed data from 75,680 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and examined the association between nut consumption and pancreatic cancer risk. Nut consumption was assessed at baseline and updated every 2 to 4 years.
During the follow up, the team documented 466 incident cases of pancreatic cancer.
After adjusting for age, height, smoking, physical activity, and total energy intake, women who consumed a 28-g (1 oz) serving size of nuts twice per week experienced a significantly lower risk of pancreatic cancer, said Bao and colleagues - noting a relative risk of 0.65 compared to those who did not eat nuts.
"The results did not appreciably change after further adjustment for body mass index (BMI) and history of diabetes mellitus," the team added - noting that the inverse association persisted within strata defined by BMI, physical activity, smoking, and intakes of red meat, fruits, and vegetables.
Source: British Journal of Cancer
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.665
"Nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in women"
Authors: Y Bao, F B Hu, E L Giovannucci, et al