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Study: Peanut butter may help reduce breast cancer risk

Wednesday - 10/9/2013, 10:18am  ET

peanut butter sandwich (Thinkstock)
Peanut butter may have lasting health impacts for young women, according to a new study. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - Everyone knows the importance of giving kids a healthy diet, but new research shows kids' diets may affect their risk of breast cancer.

Now there is evidence that what daughters are fed as little girls may affect their chances of getting breast cancer as adults. And one of the latest wonder-foods is a kid staple: peanut butter.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine and the Harvard Medical School followed 9,000 American girls through their tween and teen years and later checked to see if any had been diagnosed with benign breast disease (BBD).

They found that those who ate peanut butter twice a week were 39 percent less likely to come down with BBD, which is a risk factor for breast cancer.

Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, a professor of oncology at Georgetown University, says she wasn't surprised by the findings, which appeared in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

She says a number of earlier studies on diet and breast cancer risk have determined "that what a girl eats during childhood can have a permanent protective effect on her breast cancer risk later on."

Hilakivi says there is already evidence that drinking milk and taking fish oil help prevent breast cancer. Fish oil is helpful for adults' heart health as well, Hilakivi says.

And if a child has peanut allergies, the authors of the Washington/Harvard study say there are protein-packed alternatives including beans, lentils and soy products.

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