Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast CancerI’ve previously discussed the role of dietary lignans in the reduction of breast cancer risk and improvement in breast cancer survival, based on studies like this that showed that women with breast cancer who ate the most lignans appeared to live longer, but lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom—seeds, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, berries—so how do we know lignans weren’t just a marker for the intake of unrefined plant foods? For example, those that eat lots of plants, vegetarians, have about 8 times the lignan intake of omnivores, and the one that ate the most plants, the vegan, was off the charts.

Well in a petri dish, lignans were shown to not only have direct anticancer growth activity against human breast cancer cells, but also prevent their migration, so it was finally put to the test. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of flaxseeds, the world’s most concentrated source of lignans, in breast cancer patients found that flax appears to have the potential to reduce human breast tumor growth in just a matter of weeks. So I started recommending ground flax seeds to breast cancer patients, but what about preventing breast cancer in the first place?

Similarly, high lignan intake was associated with reduced breast cancer risk, but maybe that’s just saying high plant food intake help in general. So they gave women at high risk for breast cancer a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day for a year, and they showed, on average, a drop in precancerous changes. But what about flax seeds and breast cancer itself? Outside of an experimental setting there just weren’t a lot of women eating flax seeds regularly to study, until now. Matching 3,000 women with breast cancer to 3,000 women without, they found consumption of flaxseed alone, and of flax bread, was associated with a 20–30% reduction in breast cancer risk.

As flaxseeds are packed with lignans, only a small daily serving of flaxseed is required to attain the level of lignan intake associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk. As it appears that most women do not consume flaxseed and that small amounts may be associated with reduced breast cancer risk, we might want to consider interventions to increase the prevalence of flaxseed consumption.

The latest review summarized the association between flax and decreased risk of breast cancer in the first place, better mental health, and lower mortality among breast cancer patients. The only other study of flax and brain health I’m aware of was an exploration of 100 commonly used drugs and supplements on cognition in older adults, that found flax to be one of the few things that appeared to help.

In terms of why flaxseeds may play a role in preventing and treating breast cancer, there’s an inflammatory molecule called interleukin-1, which may help tumors feed, grow, and invade, so our body produces an interkeukin-1 receptor antagonist; it binds to the IL-1 receptor and blocks the action of IL-1. And the activity of this protective inhibitor can be boosted with the drug tamoxifen or by eating flax seeds. In premenopausal women, the pro-inflammatory profile of interleukin-1 could be counteracted by a dietary addition of a few spoonfuls of ground flax. One month of flax was able to increase the anti-inflammatory inhibitor levels by over 50%, better than even the drug.

Yes, having one’s ovaries removed may reduce breast cancer risk as much as 60%, but at the cost of severe side-effects. The drug tamoxifen may reduce the incidence of breast cancer by more than 40% but may induce other severe side effects such as uterine cancer and blood clots. That’s why less toxic, even safe, breast cancer preventive strategies such as diet modifications need to be developed, and these lignin phytoestrogens in flaxseeds may be one successful route because of very recent epidemiological data.

Now lignans are not a magic bullet to prevent breast cancer—you can’t just sprinkle some flax on your bacon cheeseburger—but as a part of a healthy diet and life-style they might help to reduce breast cancer risk in the general population.

Doctor’s Note

The first half of the video is basically just a review of all the flax and breast cancer work I’ve already cover:

Flaxseeds may also help fight hormone-mediated cancers in men. See Flaxseed vs. Prostate Cancer and Was It the Flaxseed, Fat Restriction, or Both?

What else can these puppies do? See:

I have another 100+ videos on breast cancer if you want to become an expert and help take care of yourself and/or the women in your life. Here’s a few recent ones to get you started:

Featured Photo Source:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.
Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

How Is Honey Effective In Breast Cancer Treatment?

Honey is effective in breast cancer treatmentsHoney As A Breast Cancer Treatment

The treatment for breast cancer produces a disastrous effect on the quality of life. Nowadays, two bee products have been discovered to significantly lower the common effects of breast cancer.

The issue of breast cancer overdiagnosis
According to an estimate around thousands of women each year are overdiagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 1.3 million of women are misdiagnosed with breast cancer over the past 30 years.[1]What happens is they are told that they have breast cancer despite actually having a benign lesion, for example Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) which usually never causes any symptom or harm.

In most cases, overdiagnosis of breast cancer ends up with unnecessary treatments such as Mastectomy, lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. In the last three decades, it was found that approx. 1.3million women in the U.S. were misdiagnosed and treated for breast cancer when all they had was a benign lesion. After treatment, most of the breast cancer survivors are given drug therapy for hormone suppression such as Arimidex and Tamoxifen.

Integrative medical approaches including honey and bee pollen
According to a study published in Molecular And Clinical Oncology, it is suggested that bee pollen and honey offer palliative support to overcome the side effects of cancer treatment. Side effects in breast cancer patients can include hot flushes and menopausal symptoms.

A new study is conducted to check whether bee pollen helps in the reduction of menopausal-like symptoms caused by chemical suppression of the hormone such as estrogen.

A recent trial also showed that bee pollen extracts decrease the number of hot flashes episodes and result in a better quality of life in menopausal women. In the study, pollen–honey mixture was compared with honey (placebo) for effects in breast cancer patients receiving Anti-hormonal therapy. Surprisingly, researchers have concluded that honey is as effective as pollen in reducing the symptoms of the patients.

In the study, the authors have proposed that honey has the ability to raise the estrogen levels in patients. Hormone-suppressing agents are based on the unsophisticated idea that estrogen is a carcinogen. But in reality estrogen is found to have a preventive or therapeutic effect in breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers.

It is suggested that honey is a natural compound with estrogenic properties that are helpful in lowering the side-effects of suppressive hormone medications due to which it is used in the treatment of breast cancer. Additionally, honey is also found to have anti-cancer properties that favour its use in the actual cancer treatment apart from palliation.

Source: Should Honey Be Considered A Breast Cancer RX?, July 27 2015

Photo Source: Keepers of the Homestead

Dr. Adem GunesDr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.


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