Can one tiny seed put the
brakes on cancer?
June 19th, 2013 by Holly Cornish
Not just any seed, mind you…
But scientists believe flaxseed may pack a powerful punch to knock out estrogen-dependent cancers including breast and prostate cancer.
A literature review by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that just a few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily can alter estrogen levels in a way that may protect you from this deadly disease. That modest dose was enough to reduce tumor formation.
I eat ground flaxseeds myself. Keep reading and you’ll see why. . .
Continued below. . .
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Specifically, the compound called lignans—a phytoestrogen found in flax, wheat and vegetables—seems to provide some top-notch cancer protection.
And according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, boosting lignan intake may improve survival rates in postmenopausal women who’ve had breast cancer.
A research team from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg said this could be because lignans are about the same shape as those estrogens in the body that are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
Their shape enables lignans to bind up estrogen receptors—which blocks stronger forms of estrogens from doing so. It’s as if lignans take up all the available seats in a theater, and there’s nowhere for estrogens to sit.
Some types of cancer cells need estrogen in order to multiply and form tumors. Because lignan prevents these hormones from binding to estrogen receptors, cancer cells can’t grow.
Lead researcher Jenny Chang-Claude said that the study provided “clear evidence showing that lignans lower not only the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, but also the mortality risk.”
More of the lowdown on lignan…
Lignans, isoflavones and coumestans are the three major classes of compounds that are collectively known as phytoestrogens.
These compounds are known to play a role in everything from keeping your arteries healthy and your brain sharp to sexual maturation and reproduction.
The two lignans that play the largest role in keeping humans healthy are called enterodiol and enterolactone.
These “mammalian lignans” form when gut bacteria interact with lignans in the foods you eat.
But there’s another lignan called podophyllotoxin, that is so effective at targeting and destroying cancer cells—the medical establishment has even modified it for use in chemotherapy.
And that’s not all. Podophyllotoxin’s semi-synthetic derivatives—etoposide, teniposide, and etoposide phosphate—are used regularly to battle deadly lung cancer.
Scores of studies showcase lignans’ promising performance!
Scientists have produced some impressive study results that demonstrate the beneficial health results of a diet rich in flaxseed lignans.
Consider just a few examples:
- Flax seed curbs hot flashes!—a pilot study conducted by Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found that 28 women who consumed four tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for six weeks experienced a decrease in hot flashes, from 7.3 to 3.6 a day.
- Diabetes is decimated!—Animal study results published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry showed that the SDG component of flaxseed is an antioxidant that was found to help reduce by 75 percent the development of diabetes in rodents.
- Provides superior prostate protection!—A recent study found that Scottish men with the highest intake of lignans have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.
- Colon cancer is crushed!—A Dutch study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention associated a high intake of lignans with a reduced risk of colorectal adenomas—growths that are precursors to colon cancer.
These are just a few of the studies that highlight some of the health-restoring benefits of lignans.
So if you’re ready to get your hands on some of this stuff—look no farther than your local grocery store!
I eat oatmeal four or five mornings a week, and I make a point of adding several tablespoons of fresh, ground flaxseeds. Flax seeds are by far the richest source of healthy lignan nutrients.
I grind them in a coffee grinder. (You don’t want to use the same grinder for actually grinding coffee beans; I don’t think you’ll care for flaxseed-flavored coffee). And just to be clear — you don’t cook the flaxseed in the oatmeal. You add it raw after the oatmeal is cooked.
Of course you can add ground flaxseed to anything you want — yogurt, for example. I just happen to be a regular oatmeal eater.
Grocery shopping just became therapeutic
Although especially rich in lignans, flaxseeds aren’t the only seeds to provide this nutrient. Sesame and sunflower seeds, as well as cashews and peanuts, provide a healthy dose of lignans. You haven’t lived if you’ve never eaten fresh-made cashew butter. It puts peanut butter in the shade as far as I’m concerned.
You can also buy whole grain flaxseed bread as another tasty spin on boosting your lignan intake. I like Sam’s millet-flax bread, if you can get it.
Not only can you add a crunchy taste to some of your favorite foods—but you’ll also find that flaxseeds can help reduce constipation to give you a “smooth move.”
Although foods that are high in lignans have been shown to play a positive role in breast cancer prevention, the truth is that many women do not eat enough of the types of foods that provide a significant amount of this cancer-fighting nutrient.
Because these nutrients pass through your system within 24 to 48 hours, it’s important to eat enough daily to enjoy their protective benefits.
If you think your diet might not provide enough lignans, don’t worry. In the U.S. you can purchase supplements containing lignans from flaxseed without a prescription.
Considering the anti-cancer benefits that lignans provide, you might think it’s well worth the time to add some lignan-rich foods to your next grocery shopping list.
Lee Euler, Publisher