Men who have prostate cancer could significantly reduce their risk of death by regularly consuming nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, a new study has revealed.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men.

In 2016, about 180,890 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S., and more than 26,000 men will die from the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one man in seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

“Prostate cancer should be considered seriously as more men are prone to such diseases,” said lead researcher Ying Bao from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, United States.

Eating nuts can slash prostate cancer deaths by a third

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston studied 47,000 men over a 26 year period, and identified 6,800 individuals who developed non-metastatic prostate cancer. Of the men tested, 10 percent died from prostate cancer, while one-third died from cardiovascular diseases and other causes.

The experts did not find any significant link between prostate cancer diagnosis and the regular consumption of tree nuts. However, they discovered that men who ate nuts five or more times a week after diagnosis had a 34 percent reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer compared to those who ate nuts less than once a month.

Most of the participants in the study ate peanuts, but according to the scientists, the protective benefits seem to apply to all types of nuts.

Research suggests that tocopherol, a kind of vitamin E found in nuts, is responsible for the cancer-fighting properties.

Reporting their findings in the British Journal of Cancer, the researchers said: “No significant associations were observed between peanut or other nut consumption and prostate cancer incidence. But frequent nut consumption after diagnosis was associated with significantly reduced overall mortality.

“This suggests nuts, although not associated with being diagnosed with cancer, may still improve the overall survival of patients,” they added.

Why nuts should be part of a healthy diet

Insulin sensitivity has been linked to the progression and risk of developing prostate cancer. Insulin resistance is a common condition in which cells become unresponsive to the hormone insulin, resulting in messed up blood sugar levels.

According to the scientists, nuts may help to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart diseases, thereby lowering the total mortality factor.

Also, tree nuts host a broad range of essential nutrients that provide anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cardio-protective properties. These nutrients include proteins, unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and many other beneficial phytochemicals.

This study is not the first of its kind to suggest that regular consumption of nuts combined with a healthy lifestyle could help fight certain cancers and other life-threatening diseases. In a 2014 study, scientists found that a healthy diet and lifestyle, including frequently snacking on nuts, contributed to cancer suppression. Walnuts, in particular, slowed the growth of prostate, colon and renal cancers.

Maureen Ternus, who runs a non-profit organization known as the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation, said: “Just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (about 1/3 cup) can have a positive impact on health.”

“These findings add to the growing body of evidence showing that nuts should be part of a healthy diet,” Ternus added.