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Consuming Lignans Might Reduce Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk

Posted May 19 2010 7:07am
Plant lignans are chemicals found in many plants, particularly fiber-rich plants.  The main plant lignan is secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG), which when consumed in the diet is converted to two mammalian enterolignans, enterolactone and enterodiol.  Numerous research studies have reported that lignans have multiple health benefits.  Among these possible health benefits is a potential reduction in breast cancer risk; however, the research has been somewhat inconsistent to date.  A new research study examined the overall evidence on the potential benefits of dietary lignans on breast cancer risk.

The goal of this new breast cancer study was to collect and analyze the available scientific evidence on dietary lignans in relation to breast cancer risk.  To do this, the breast cancer researchers searched through research publications from 1997 through 2009, grouped the data, and analyzed it as a whole.  The results of this meta-analysis showed that
  • Overall breast cancer risk was not effected by lignan exposure.
  • High levels of dietary lignan consumption reduced breast cancer risk by about 14% in postmenopausal women.
  • Exposure to the enterolignans reduced breast cancer risk by about 16%.
  • These benefits were evident regardless of breast cancer estrogen receptor status.
Overall, this new study supports a positive role for dietary lignans in breast cancer risk reduction for postmenopausal women.  While breast cancer risk reduction benefits of lignans were not observed in premenopausal women in this current study, lignans are components of many healthy, nutrient-rich foods and have been reported to have additional health benefits.  While flaxseed is one of the richest dietary sources, lignans also can be obtained from foods like cereals, legumes, vegetables, and berries.  Therefore, adding lignans to one's diet can be an easy and healthy choice.  A free review paper on lignans is available to read online or download if you want to learn more about lignans and their potential health benefits.

The overall health and breast cancer fighting benefits of lignans are the reason why flaxseed is one of my favorite cancer fighting foods.  To read more about my favorite cancer fighting foods, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer.
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