Flax seeds or linseeds are tiny brown or yellow seeds known for their health-protective properties. Grown since the beginning of civilization, they are rich in lignans containing up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. These lignans or phytoestrogens possess powerful antioxidants which prevent the growth of cancer cells and may even reduce tumor growth in breast cancer patients. Whether preventing cancer or its recurrence, flax seeds are a gal’s best friend.
Dr. Lillian Thompson of Toronto University is known as the “flax seed expert.” She and other researchers believe the lignans in flax seeds fight breast cancer in the following ways:
- Decreasing three different growth factors associated with the growth of breast tissue;
- Blocking environmental estrogens from attaching to breast tissue;
- Blocking the aromatase enzyme in a way similar to the drug Arimidex;
- Blocking the estrogen receptor in a way similar to the drug Tamoxifen; and
- Lowering your overall production of estrogen.
Several years ago, Thompson conducted the first clinical trial of flax seed’s impact on postmenopausal women with breast cancer. She fed 25 grams of flax seed or placebo for approximately 5 weeks to women awaiting surgery. The results were promising, showing significant changes for the better in the tumors of those who consumed flax seed.
“Clinical studies on breast cancer patients or premenopausal women with high risk of getting breast cancer are very limited,” says Thompson, “but those that have been conducted suggest that flax seed is able to reduce the growth of breast tumors in postmenopausal women and that SDG (the main lignan) may also reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.”
With breast cancer on the rise and impacting one in eight women today, this simple and cheap grain is one we should all be reaching for as an ally to prevent cancer. Surgeon and breast cancer advocate, Dr. Christine Horner says, “The American way of living is a recipe for breast cancer.” Of the men diagnosed with breast cancer, 90 percent are estrogen positive, and they also can benefit from the use of flax seed. These lignans also have anti-cancer benefits for prostate, colon, skin, and lung cancers. But always check with your oncologist.
Flax seeds are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which prevents plaque buildup in blood vessels and reduces inflammation in arteries. This is significant information for those who have seafood allergies and can’t take fish oils. They contain the lowest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of other seeds and this lower ratio has been linked to lower risk of many chronic diseases. Some research indicates that flax seeds can help lower blood pressure.
Flax seeds contain soluble (20-40%) and insoluble (60-80%) fiber. Soluble fiber helps to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and helps those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or diverticulosis.
This nutrient-dense food can be ground and sprinkled ground over hot or cold cereal, mixed into yogurt, added to cookies, muffins or breads, blended with water as an egg replacement in baking, incorporated into meat patties, and mixed into smoothies.
For those desiring to prevent cancer or its recurrence, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds daily for potency is recommended. I hide it in my smoothie. Adequate hydration is also important. This is a great way to naturally reduce estrogen for those who are estrogen-dominant or those who’ve had breast cancer and their body could not tolerate taking the estrogen blocker pills. Flax seeds, however, are not recommended for women who are nursing or pregnant.
How many of you knew there was a natural way to reduce estrogen? Let me introduce you to your new best friend in preventing cancer and its recurrence . . . flax seeds. A friend that strives to protect you.
To your health!