Flax The New Soy?
have been taking soy for years to help prevent breast cancer.
Now, the less well known flaxseed is getting some attention for
the same reasons.
and flaxseed contain phytoestrogens. These plant estrogens act like
the female hormone when they are included in a balanced diet.
centuries, plant estrogens have been used to combat menopausal
symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and leg cramps.
have been done with soy that suggest that the phytoestrogens help
to prevent breast cancer by lowering the amount of the hormone
years ago, Dr. Joanne Slavin of the University of Minnesota in
St. Paul reported on a study she had led, enlisting the assistance
of 28 postmenopausal nuns to see whether eating foods with phytoestrogens
acted on the estrogen circulating in the body.
used flaxseed supplements because this food contains a high level
of lignan, a phytoestrogen thought to reduce estrogen production.
research group measured the levels of estrone sulfate and estradiol.
Both of these forms of estrogen have been linked to the growth
of breast cancer tumors. The study found that the amounts of these
estrogens were lowered in the group taking the supplements. A
second group eating the same foods, without the supplement, did
not have a reduction in the estrogen in their systems.
report back in 2000 by the BBC was on a study that involved
a group of women with breast cancer tumors eating flaxseed muffins.
This group also showed slower tumor growth.
articles point to the high content of alpha-linolenic acid in
flaxseed as a possible reason for the slow down of tumor growth.
Alpha-linolenic acid is the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids
which are thought to help prevent breast cancer.
of the studies since warn that these results are preliminary.
Women who are pregnant are warned to avoid high doses of plant
estrogen. The scientists also caution women who have estrogen
receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer that phytoestrogens may
not be safe. It is not known whether the plant estrogens act on
tumors that need estrogen to grow. If you have been diagnosed
with this type of breast cancer, these supplements are not recommended.
adding any type of supplement to your diet, you should discuss
the decision with a medical professional. "Natural"
does not mean harmless.
on the Web:
Breast Cancer and Flaxseeds
Seeds & Flax Oil