The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — New research conducted at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has linked a common sight in West Virginia's forests and yards to the breast cancer suppression.

Consuming just two ounces of walnuts a day for roughly two weeks has shown to significantly alter gene expression in confirmed breast cancers, according to a research team led by W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biomedical Science.

Walnuts have been shown to slow breast cancer growth as well as reduce the risk of breast cancer in mice, Hardman said in a release. With that research, the team hypothesized walnuts would alter gene expressions in confirmed cases of breast cancer in women, resulting in decreased breast cancer growth.

In the first human trial, women with breast cancer were placed in randomized walnut-consuming or control groups, with the walnut group consuming two ounces of walnuts per day following the biopsy to follow-up surgery.

RNA sequencing taken afterword revealed 456 identified genes had significantly changed their expression in the tumor, attributable to the walnuts.

“These results support the hypothesis that, in humans, walnut consumption could suppress growth and survival of breast cancers,” Hardman said in a university release. “Additional research through a larger-scale study would be needed to clinically confirm that walnut consumption actually does reduce the risk of breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence.”

The study was funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, though the university added the CWC did not influence the development and analysis of the study nor the decision to publish results. The National Institutes of Health also provided funding.

Breast surgeons Dr. Mary Legenza, of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. James Morgan, formerly of St. Mary’s Medical Center, collected biopsies from patient volunteers for the clinical trial. Donald A. Primerano, Jun Fan,., and James Denvir of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine performed the RNA expression profiling, bioinformatic and statistical analyses.

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