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Lignans and Fatty Acids From Flaxseed Might Reduce Breast Cancer Growth

Posted May 27 2010 6:38am
Research has shown and continues to show that flaxseed can have numerous health benefits , including breast health and heart health, when included in the diet.  The health benefits of flaxseed have been attributed to its content of lignans , like secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), and omega-3 fatty acids ( alpha-linolenic acid ).  These components of flaxseed have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which is the primary basis for their potential health benefits.  However, our knowledge of the mechanisms by which these flaxseed constituents work remains incomplete. 

Breast cancer researchers recently conducted an animal study to determine how SDG and alpha-linolenic acid exert their effects on breast cancer tumors .  For this study, the breast cancer investigators first established human estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer tumors in mice.  The mice were then treated for 8 weeks with either (1) a control diet, (2) a diet supplemented with the SDG lignan, (3) a diet supplemented with flaxseed oil rich in alpha-linolenic fatty acid or (4) a diet supplemented with both SDG and flaxseed oil.  The study investigators reported that
  • Addition of SDG alone, flaxseed oil alone, and the combination of lignans and flaxseed oil all reduced breast cancer tumor growth.
  • Addition of SDG to the diet had the greatest cancer fighting effect
  • The breast cancer benefits of SDG were through its ability to suppress breast cancer cell growth pathways and reduce levels of estrogen receptors and epidermal growth factor receptors.
This new breast cancer research confirms the breast cancer fighting benefits of flaxseed and its components and further clarifies how flaxseed has a potentially protective effect.   According to these study results, the main lignan in flaxseed, SDG, is capable of suppressing tumor growth by inhibiting cell growth pathways dependent upon estrogen receptors and growth factor receptors.  In addition to its potential health benefits, flaxseed has an excellent nutrient profile .  In addition to being a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B6, and manganese.  The potential health benefits and nutrient profile of flaxseed make it an excellent choice to include in a healthy diet.

These benefits of flaxseed also make it one of my favorite breast cancer fighting foods.  To learn more about some of my favorite foods to fight breast cancer, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer.
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