(HealthDay News) — For long-term breast cancer survivors, nut consumption is associated with improved disease-free survival, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in the International Journal of Cancer.

Cong Wang, M.P.H., from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues examined the associations of nut consumption assessed at five years after diagnosis with overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) among 3,449 long-term breast cancer survivors.

The researchers identified 374 deaths during a median follow-up of 8.27 years post-dietary assessment, including 252 breast cancer deaths. Two hundred and nine of the 3,274 survivors without previous recurrence at the dietary assessment developed breast cancer-specific events (recurrence, metastasis, or breast cancer mortality).

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Regular nut consumers had higher OS (93.7 versus 89.0 percent) and DFS (94.1 versus 86.2 percent) rates at five-year post-dietary assessment (10 years after diagnosis). There were positive associations observed for nut consumption with OS and DFS after multivariable assessment in a dose-response pattern; for participants with a greater than median nut intake, the hazard ratios were 0.74 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 1.05) and 0.48 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.31 to 0.73) for OS and DFS, respectively, compared with nonconsumers.

There was no variation noted in these associations by nut type. The associations were more evident among those with higher total energy intake for OS and among those with early-stage breast cancers for DFS. Estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor status and other known prognostic factors did not modify the nut-DFS associations.

“Promoting this modifiable lifestyle factor should be emphasized in breast cancer survivor guidelines,” the authors write.

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