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Flaxseeds for Breast Cancer | HabitWall

Flaxseeds for Reducing Breast Cancer Risk


In this video we are going to be learning about flaxseeds impact on reducing the risk of breast cancer. I read from Dr. Greger's book titled 'How not to Die' from a chapter titled "How Not to Die from Breast Cancer" on pages 193-195.

Main Points:

  • - Researchers took about 45 women at high risk of breast cancer -- meaning they had suspicious breast biopsies or had previously suffered from breast cancer -- and gave them the equivalent of about two teaspoons of crown flaxseeds every day.
    • - Results: On average, the women had fewer precancerous changes in their breasts after the year of flax lignans then before they started. Eighty percent  (thirty-six of the forty-five) had a drop in their levels of Ki-67, a biomarker, (indicator) of increased cell proliferation.
  • - Important: These benefits are associated with lignans that are produced by the good bacteria in your gut -- lignans are made when mixed with lignan precursors that are present in flaxseeds. Flaxseeds don't contain lignans, only lignan precursors which need to be activated. This task is performed by the good bacteria in your gut.

[You're encouraged to check out our 30-Day Get Lean HabitWall to improve your gut microbiome and appearance so that you look healthier and inevitably feel healthier too. You'll have to customize one of the habits to say "Eat Flaxseeds" if you'd like to make flaxseed consumption a daily habit. The 30 Days of Fitness HabitWall may be worth checking out as well. They're both customizable, but each one was designed with specific intention so the pre-templated version is highly effective.]

Excerpt (as read in video above):

Excerpt:

Flaxseeds are one of the first items ever considered to be health foods, treasured for their purported healing properties since at least the times of ancient Greece, when the renowned physician Hippocrates wrote about using them to treat patients. 

Better known as one of the richest plant sources of essential omega three fatty acids, flaxseeds are really set apart by their lignin content. Though lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom, flaxseeds have around one hundred times more lignans than other foods. What are lignans?

Lignans are phytoestrogens that can dampen the effects of the body's own estrogen. This is why flaxseeds are considered a first line medical therapy for menstrual breast pain. In terms of breast cancer risk, eating about a daily tablespoon of ground flaxseed can extend a woman's menstrual cycle by about a day. This means she'll have fewer periods over the course of a lifetime and therefore presumably less estrogen exposure and reduced breast cancer risk. Just as broccoli doesn't technically contain sulforaphane (only the precursors that turn into sulforaphane when chewed -- see page 305), flaxseeds don't contain lignans, only lignan precursors which need to be activated. This task is performed by the good bacteria in your gut.

The gut bacteria's role may help explain why women with frequent urinary tract infections may be at a higher risk of breast cancer: Every course of antibiotics you take can kill bacteria indiscriminately, meaning it may stymie the ability of the good bacteria in your gut to take full advantage of the lignans in your diet. (Yet another reason you should take antibiotics only when necessary.)

Lignin intake is associated with significantly reduced breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. This effect is presumed to be due to lignans further estrogen dampening effects. But since lignans are found in healthy foods, like berries, whole grains and dark leafy greens, could they just be an indicator of a healthy diet?

In a petri dish, lignans do directly suppress the proliferation of breast cancer cells. But the strongest evidence to date that there really is something special about this class of phytonutrients comes from interventional trials, starting with the 2010 study funded by the National Cancer Institute. Researchers took about 45 women at high risk of breast cancer -- meaning they had suspicious breast biopsies or had previously suffered from breast cancer -- and gave them the equivalent of about two teaspoons of crown flaxseeds every day. Needle biopsies of breast tissue were taken before and after the year long study. The results: On average, the women had fewer precancerous changes in their breasts after the year of flax lignans then before they started. Eighty percent  (thirty-six of the forty-five) had a drop in their levels of Ki-67, a biomarker, (indicator) of increased cell proliferation. This finding suggests that sprinkling a few spoonfuls of ground flaxseed on your oatmeal or whatever you're eating throughout the day, may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

What about women who already have breast cancer? Breast cancer survivors who have higher levels of lignans in their bloodstream and diets appear to survive significantly longer. This outcome may be due to the fact that women who eat flaxseeds may also see a rise in the levels of endostatin in their breasts. (Endostatin is a protein produced by your body to help starve tumors up their blood supply.)

The evidence from studies like these appeared so compelling that scientists performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of flax seeds for breast cancer patients--one of the few times a food has ever been so rigorously put to the test. Researchers located women with breast cancer scheduled for surgery and divided them randomly into two groups: Every day, group one ate a muffin containing flaxseed, while group two at muffin that looked and tasted the same but had no flaxseed in it. Biopsies of the tumors in the flax and no-flax group were taken at the beginning of the study and then compared with the pathology of the tumor removed during surgery about five weeks later.

Was there any difference? Compared with the women who ate the placebo muffins, women consuming the muffins with flaxseed, on average, witnessed their tumor-cell proliferation decrease, cancer-cell death rates increase, and their C-erB2 scores go down. C-erB2 is a marker of cancer aggressiveness; the higher your score, the higher the potential for breast cancer to metastasize and spread throughout the body. In other words, do flaxseeds appear to make the subjects cancer less aggressive. The researchers concluded, "Dietary flaxseed has the potential to reduce tumor growth in patients with breast cancer... Flaxseed, which is inexpensive and readily available, may be a potential dietary alternative or adjunct to currently used breast cancer drugs."

End of Excerpt.