Flaxseeds are special for breast tissues, not only because they contain fiber and omega-3’s, but also special substances called “lignans” that exert protective effects. One animal study documented that flaxseed suppressed breast cancer growth and metastasis by 45% . Human studies also have shown that women with breast cancer have much lower levels of lignans in their bodies compared to women without breast cancer. A key study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention reported that a high blood level of lignans was associated with a 58% reduction of breast cancer risk . A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported a 17% reduction in breast cancer for women with the highest lignan intake .
In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women consuming about 1 ounce of flaxseed daily had lower levels of toxic estrogen metabolites that harm breast tissues .
Pilot studies in humans with active breast cancer have shown that flaxseeds reduce tumor growth  and reduce breast tissue density . Remember that increased breast tissue density is a known risk factor for cancer.
Flaxseeds also have anti-inflammatory, bone, blood pressure, diabetic, immune, and cholesterol benefits. Flaxseed can also reduce hot flashes. I take a flax lignan supplement supplying 50 milligrams of lignans daily.
1. Chen J, Stavro PM, Thompson LU. Dietary flaxseed inhibits human breast cancer growth and metastasis and downregulates expression of insulin-like growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor. Nutrition and Cancer 2002; 43:187-192.
2. Piller R, Chang-Claude J, Linseisen J. Plasma enterolactone and gensitein and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2006; 15:225-232.
3. Touillaud MS, Thiebaut ACM, Fournier A, Niravong M, Boutron-Ruault M-C, Clavel-Chapelon F. Dietary lignan intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk by estrogen and progesterone receptor status. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2007; 99:475-486.
4. Brooks JD, Ward WE, Lewis JE, Hilditch J, Nickell L, Wong E, Thompson LU. Supplementation with flaxseed alters estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women to a greater extent than does supplementation with an equal amount of soy. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004; 79; 318-325.
5. Thompson LU, Chen JM, Li T, Strasser-Weippl K, Goss PE. Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clinical Cancer Research 2005; 11:3828-3835.
6. Nagel G, Mack U, von Fournier D, Linseisen J. Dietary phytoestrogen intake and mammographic density – results of a pilot study. European Journal of Medical Research 2005;
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