Breast Health, a Great Reason to Love Peanut Butter and Jelly

Sarah B. Weir, Shine Senior Writer
Two servings of peanut butter a week to support breast health (Getty images)

Peanut butter is a delicious snack, but here's another incentive to dig into a jar of crunchy. New research indicates that older girls who regularly eat peanut butter and other sources of vegetable protein and fat may reduce their risk of developing benign breast disease (BBD) by as much as 39 percent. The findings are based on data collected from over 9,000 girls and young women who participated in Growing Up Today, a long-term research study led by Harvard Medical School and Brigham Women's Hospital. While BBD, which includes a range of conditions, is non-cancerous, it can increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

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The findings were based on the reported dietary habits of girls aged 9-15 between the years of 1996-2001. Later, from 2005 to 2010, the same participants reported whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed by a biopsy. Researchers found that girls who ate 2 regular servings of peanut butter or nuts per week had a 39 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the BBD by age 30. "These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," senior author Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, of the Washington University School of medicine said in a statement.

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The study also reported that girls who ate a daily serving of beans, lentils, soybeans, and corn had a reduced risk of BBD, but the link was weaker because they consumed less in general. The consumption of dairy products had no impact on risk.

While previous studies have also found a link between the eating these foods and a lower risk of BBD, this is the first to use evidence reported while the participants were still adolescents. Because nuts are high calories, Colditz suggests swapping them for junk food snacks and sugary drinks.

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