Phytoestrogens such as flax seed are cancer-preventive, not causative. Regular consumption of flax seed prevents breast cancer, reduces tumor growth, inhibits the progression of the disease, and dramatically increases survival time.
Your Doctor is Wrong
Many doctors tell their patients to avoid flaxseed as they believe that phytoestrogens are bad for women with breast cancer. The ‘logic’ behind the notion that flax is a weak estrogen and therefore could potentially stimulate hormone dependent cancers is simply, well, not logical. On the contrary, studies have found that the more flaxseed a woman eats, the less likely she will get breast cancer. If she has already been diagnosed, flaxseed has the potential to reduce the growth and invasiveness of her cancer.
While it is true that a high concentration of plasma estrogen is associated with breast cancer, the lignans in flaxseed actually help reduce estrogen’s effects. Phytoestrogens compete with natural estrogen for binding to the receptors on breast cells, yet they exert much milder action than the body’s own estrogen. While the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen also blocks estrogen receptors, it comes with a host of dangerous side effects.
One of the other ways the tamoxifen works is by starving the tumor of its blood supply. However, once again, researchers have found that flaxseed provides the same response.
A landmark study led by lignin expert Dr Lilian Thompson, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, showed that just two tablespoons (25 grams) of flaxseed daily can significantly reduce tumor growth. The researchers further concluded that the effect of flaxseed on cancerous cells was comparable to that of tamoxifen, sans the side effects.
In this infamous study, women with newly diagnosed breast cancer were given either a muffin laden with 25 grams of flaxseed or a placebo muffin that did not contain flax. The researchers found that in those participants who had eaten the flax muffin there was a 34% reduction of the Ki-67 index expression (a cellular marker for proliferation) a 71% decrease in Her2/Neu expression (Her2/neu is a genetic marker that predicts the aggressiveness of the cancer) and a 30.7% increase in apoptosis (cell death). Mighty impressive results.
When the tumors were removed, the researchers found that the women who had eaten the flax seed muffins had slower-growing tumors than the others. And what is really cool is that the researchers found that the effect of flax on the cancerous cells was comparable with that seen using chemotherapy (tamoxifen).
Flaxseed inhibits breast cancer whether the tumor is estrogen receptor positive or negative, and the response is dose-dependent. The more flax you consume, the more effective it will be. In fact, one study determined that women who eat the most flax reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by a whopping 62 percent!
Key Benefits of Flaxseed
- Decreases cell proliferation rates
- Significantly reduces tumor growth
- Decreases angiogenesis and increases apoptosis (which seem to account for the decreased tumor growth)
- Influences ER-negative and ER-positive tumors by decreasing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), HER2 and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which supports angiogenesis
- Reduces metastasis of ER-negative breast tumors
- ALA from flaxseed reduces growth of breast cancer, including ER-negative and triple-negative breast cancer
- Rich in Omega 3’s with have been found to positively influence the tumor suppressor genes—BRCA. When properly functioning, these genes prevent tumor growth by repairing DNA
- Radio-protective (consuming flax can help prevent the body from damaging mammograms, radio-therapy, CT and PET scans
I encourage you to read my post Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen for more on flaxseed and breast cancer.
For an excellent discussion on the distortion of the efficacy of tamoxifen, please read Tamoxifen; the Manipulation of Statistics and Natural Solutions to Balance the Hormones.
Some of the studies suggest two tablespoons daily is enough, but others recommend slightly more than three. Interestingly, the summer before my re-diagnosis, I cut back on consumption. This past summer, however, I not only consumed flax — I consumed a great deal of it. Most days I had 5-8 tablespoons. I hadn’t originally thought about this when I was considering what, of all the things that I did, turned my cancer around. Now that I look back, it could very well be that flax was a key player.
So how exactly did I end up eating so much flaxseed? If you remember my post on Food Fatigue, I suddenly had a hankering for pizza, made with a garbanzo bean crust as I had given up wheat. It wasn’t long before I used that crust to make ‘toast’ to go with my eggs, and before long, I modified that crust to be mostly flax (and some chia seeds too!). Since then I have come up with some amazing recipes, so look for Part II for those.
Clearly oncologists should be advising their patients to eat copious amounts of dietary flax. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but you might want to consider including flax in your daily diet. Flaxseed is only one of the components of an anti-cancer, estrogen management protocol, but it is an important one.
Remember that flaxseed oxidizes quickly, turning it rancid. To ensure the stability and nutritional value of flax, please grind the seeds just prior to use. This can be easily done in a simple coffee grinder.
If you are interested in learning about natural alternatives to tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, please contact me for more information.
Click here for Recipes
More Studies and Posts on Flaxseed:
Nothing in this post is intended to be medical advice, nor is it a replacement for medical advice. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any diseases or conditions. Always consult with your medical team before making treatment choices.
~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She brings a plethora of knowledge to her practice and will help you think outside the box so you can incorporate every lifeline you may need for long term survival. Contact Elyn via her website, www.elynjacobs.com. By doing so you can ascertain exactly how she is able to assist you as you optimize your health. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.