Research Shows Flaxseed No Longer a Breast Cancer Danger

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Research Shows Flaxseed No Longer a Breast Cancer Danger


Byline: Karen Collins American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: I've heard that flaxseed can help lower blood cholesterol, but I'm worried that it could pose breast cancer risk. What does current research say about this?

A: The latest research shows that consuming flaxseed does not increase risk for breast cancer. At one time, there was concern that flaxseed's lignans, classified as phytoestrogens could raise the risk of breast cancers that are fueled by high levels of estrogen. Now studies show that although lignans' chemical structure is like estrogen, they don't act like estrogen in the body. In fact, research indicates flaxseed may be protective, especially in postmenopausal women. It seems to decrease cell growth, increase self-destruction of abnormal cells and shift estrogen metabolism to less cancer-promoting forms.

As for heart health benefits, some studies do show that including four level tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, although we need more research to understand who benefits and how much is needed.

Flaxseed does provide other valuable nutrients: it is concentrated in dietary fiber and contains the plant form of omega-3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid. An additional benefit -- bacteria in our gut convert flaxseed's lignans into compounds with antioxidant effects.

Do check with your doctor before beginning daily flaxseed if you take fish oil or EPA + DHA supplements or anticoagulant medicine. …

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