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Flaxseeds - Tiny, Yet Mighty!

Flaxseeds – Tiny, yet Mighty!

German studies have pointed to flaxseed and cottage cheese helping cancer patients and in general, they can even soothe period cramps. So make sure to add these healthy little seeds to your diet to give your immunity and health a big boost! While flaxseeds are good for preventing cancer in both men and women in cancer, knowing how prevalent the concern for breast cancer is we are sharing some findings by the University of Toronto on how flaxseeds are a small but mighty weapon against cancer.

Tons of Studies Reveal their Anticancer Benefits

Scores of studies reveal the anticancer effects of flaxseed. Researchers from the University of Toronto reviewed the makeup of flaxseeds and tested how effective they are in reducing breast cancer risk as well as other tumor growth, and even more interestingly, how flaxseeds interact beneficially with breast cancer drugs for those who choose to go the traditional medicine route.

They reviewed in vitro, animal, observational, and clinical studies on flaxseed and flaxseed oil, as well as lingans found in flaxseed.     

Now I know what you are thinking, what in the world are lignans? Lingans are a class of phytoestrogens or plant estrogens that also act as antioxidants.  Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin  seeds, grains (rye, barley, wheat and oats), broccoli and beans also contain lignans.  But, the crazy thing is that flaxseeds have hundreds of times over the amount of lignans as any of these other sources!

These Miracle Seeds can Slow the Growth of Breast Cancer

The University of Toronto summarizes the amazing power of flaxseed to prevent and slow the growth of breast cancer.   Here's what they concluded:

  • The majority of animal studies show a diet of 2.5%-10% flaxseed or the equivalent amount of lignan or flaxseed oil reduces tumor growth.

  • Diets consisting of 10% flaxseed and the equivalent amount of lignans do not interfere with but rather increase the effectiveness of certain cancer drugs, for those who choose to incorporate main stream with a natural approach.

  • Observational studies show flaxseed and lignan intake, urinary excretion, or serum levels are associated with reduced breast cancer risk, particularly in postmenopausal women.

  • Lignans reduce breast cancer mortality between 33%-70%.  They also reduce all-cause mortality by 40%-53%.

  • Clinical trials show that taking 2.5 tablespoons per day of flaxseed for 32 days reduces tumor growth.

  • Obviously incorporating them on a daily basis for prevention is very wise - we all know that an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.

These Seeds can Also Protect Against Breast Cancer

Flaxseeds protect women from breast cancer in a variety of ways.  Here are just a few:

  1. Flaxseeds decrease tumor cell proliferation.  When eaten, lignans in flaxseeds are broken down by bacteria in the gut into 2 estrogen-like compounds that circulate through the liver. These compounds have been proven in animal studies to help prevent breast cancer by preventing tumor growth.

  2. Lignans block tumor blood supply.  Tumors need angiogenesis - new blood vessels - to supply oxygen and nutrients for growth.  Flaxseeds inhibit the growth factor needed to stimulate angiogenesis according to animal studies.   

  3. Lignans lower estrogen production. Lignans block aromatase, the enzyme involved in the production of estrogen.  Blocking the enzyme lowers estrogen production. High estrogen levels have been linked to the growth of breast cancer.

  4. Lignans block estrogen receptors. Phytoestrogens like lignans have been estimated to be hundreds of times weaker than human estrogen.  But these plant estrogens dock on estrogen receptors and prevent the activity of stronger cancer stimulating human estrogens and environmental or xenoestrogens.  In that way their effect is similar to the way some of the cancer drugs work without the side effects. 

  5. Lignans help generate more protective estrogens. Estrogen is broken down in the liver into three different metabolites.  Two of those metabolites are linked to the growth of breast cancer cells. But the third type – 2-OH estrone – does not stimulate cancer growth and is considered protective.  Lignans influence how the liver breaks down estrogen and encourages more of the protective 2-OH estrone and less of the other cancer producing metabolites.

  6. Flaxseeds may lower cancer from spreading.  Flaxseeds may substantially decrease cases of metastasis.  In one animal study, a high flaxseed diet reduced the incidence of metastasis by 82% compared to the control group.

An earlier meta-analysis showed that flaxseed can prevent and kill breast cancer. Cited observational studies suggesting the consumption of flaxseed may:

  • Decrease risk of primary breast cancer by 18%

  • Improve mental health of breast cancer patients by 76%

  • Lower mortality among breast cancer patients by 32%

Adding cancer-protective flaxseed to your diet is easy.

Many of the studies show just 25 grams (2.5 tablespoons) per day is effective. Studies also show that up to 40 grams per day are safe in postmenopausal women.

Flaxseeds Sound Wonderful, Now How Do I Consume Them?

HOW TO EAT:   

Choose either golden or brown flaxseeds but make sure they're organic to avoid agrochemical laden varieties.

Grind the seeds in a coffee bean grinder.  But ground flax will go rancid so grind only a week's worth and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. You can also soak them in water for about an hour to release the oils and simply eat them that way.

Aim for 2 to 4 tablespoons per day but work up to that gradually so that your digestive system adjusts to the high fiber content. Helps with regularity, for sure!