A higher consumption of nuts was associated with a lower overall risk for developing lung cancer irrespective of cigarette smoking status and other known risk factors, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

Because epidemiologic evidence on the relationship between nut consumption and lung cancer risk is limited, researchers sought to evaluate the association between nut intake and the risk for developing lung cancer in the population-based case-control Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) study, and the prospective cohort National Institutes of Health (NIH) American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Diet and Health Study.

Investigators identified 2098 cases of lung cancer in the EAGLE study and 18,533 incident cases in the AARP Diet and Health Study. Using food frequency questionnaires, researchers assessed diet for both studies.

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In the EAGLE study, results showed that patients in the highest quintile of nut consumption had a 26% lower overall lung cancer risk compared with those in the lowest quintile (odds ratio [OR], 0.74; 95% CI, 0.57-0.95). Investigators observed similar results in the AARP study (hazard ratio [HR], 0.86; 95% CI, 0.81-0.91).

Results from the AARP Diet and Health Study demonstrated similar associations between nut consumption and lung cancer risk across histologic subtypes.

Among patients who smoked 1 to 20 cigarettes per day, those in the highest quintile of nut consumption had a 39% reduced risk of lung cancer in EAGLE (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.39-0.95) and a 27% lower risk in the AARP study (HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.74-0.94) vs those in the lowest quintile.

Although these findings suggest that higher nut consumption is associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer, additional prospective trials are needed to confirm these results.


1. Lee JT, Lai GY, Liao LM, et al. Nut consumption and lung cancer risk: Results from two large observational studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Jan 11. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0806 [Epub ahead of print]