As an important constituent of the Mediterranean diet, nuts are quickly becoming a super food for those patients interested in clean, healthy eating. But how do nuts stack up against the risks of cancer and diabetes? A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrition Reviews found that although the current evidence is inconsistent, nut consumption is associated with a decreased risk of certain types of cancer but has no effect on the risk of patients developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2).
To complete this literature review, a research team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis searched 6 databases—Medline In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus—for studies about nuts and cancer and diabetes from database inception through August 2014. Team members searched reference lists of relevant review articles and contacted authors when data required clarification. Studies targeted for the review were epidemiological studies or clinical trials that reported an association between nut consumption and the outcome of DM2 or specific cancers.
In all, 36 studies with a total of 30,708 patients were analyzed. These studies were deemed to have fair methodological quality with a length of follow-up ranging between 4.6 years and 30 years. The analysis revealed significant associations between nut consumption and decreased risk of colorectal, endometrial, and pancreatic cancers. At the same time, no significant association was found with other cancers or DM2.
While the authors caution that additional research will be needed to more accurately assess the relationship between nut consumption and the prevention of cancer, the clinical takeaway from this review is clear: Encouraging nut consumption is a simple way to promote a healthy diet and decrease the risk of certain cancers in our patients.
Wu L, Wang Z, Zhu J, Murad AL, Prokop LJ, Murad MH. Nut consumption and risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2015;73(7):409-425.

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