Alison is a registered dietitian, board-certified in oncology nutrition, and a cancer thriver. Her expertise in oncology nutrition and personal experience with her own cancer diagnosis and its treatment provide her with the unique perspective of being able to relate to her clients on an entirely different level. Her content is consistently focused on evidence-based guidelines and seeks to increase the awareness of the power of nutrition to complement traditional cancer therapies.
A close friend of mine likes to joke about my love for flaxseed and healthy bowel movements. Even though he may be joking, we both know there is truth to it.
I love flaxseed and I’m not shy to talk about bowel movements!
Beyond ground flaxseed being my favorite recommendation for constipation relief, it is also one of my top recommendations for cancer prevention AND management.
Flaxseed, a seed I describe as looking like a brown sesame seed, is well known for its rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. But what really sets flaxseed apart from other plant-based colleagues also rich in omega-3s (chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, etc.) is their lignan content.
Lignans? (Lig – nan – s)
Lignans are a phytochemical known for its phytoestrogen properties.
Wait — phytoestrogen? Yes. Phytoestrogens tend to get a bad reputation they don’t deserve. I reviewed the research in this article.
Phytoestrogens were once thought to increase estrogen in the body, but the opposite is true. Phytoestrogens can reduce the effects of estrogen in the body and science has the research to prove it.
Flaxseeds and Breast Cancer
Flaxseeds contain nearly 100x more lignans than any other foods (1). Why do we care? Consumption of lignans is associated with significantly reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (2).
Lignans themselves have been shown to directly reduce the growth of breast cancer cells, while in a petri dish (3). You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again — we are not petri dishes. However, this led to further research in humans.
The National Cancer Institute studied 45 women who had suspicious breast biopsies or had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer. They were to consume 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseed daily for 1-year. After 1-year, there were less precancerous breast cancer cells and 80% experienced a drop in a biomarker indicating cell growth (Ki-67 for my fellow ). (4)
Interested in more research?
Overall, lignan intake in the form of flaxseed consumption is associated with reduced breast cancer risk and tumor growth.
Flaxseeds and Prostate Cancer
There is less talk about phytoestrogens and lignans when it comes to men’s health, I presume since it doesn’t seem related. However, the research in phytoestrogens for prostate cancer health is widely available.
Studies have found that lignans have been shown to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells, in a petri dish (9). Again, what about in actual humans?
Men with prostate cancer were asked to consume three tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily. After a month of consumption, their tumors were examined and found to have reduced cancer cell growth and an increase in the rate of cancer-cell clearance–or, getting rid of cancer cells. (10)
Overall, ground flaxseed consumption has been shown to be a safe, low-cost, and effective method playing a role in the reduction of prostate cancer cells and cell growth (11). #hellonutritionwin
Expert Tips for Consuming Flaxseed
These days, many individuals are familiar with flaxseeds but are not necessarily familiar with how to include it regularly.
Here are my favorite tips for making flaxseed a regular star in your disease-fighting diet:
An egg replacement in baking!
You can add ground flaxseed to a variety of dishes, but here are my favorites:
Want to learn more about how we include this cancer-fighting food regularly?
Grab our FREE, 5-day Cancer Fighting Menu Plan complete with a grocery list, prep list, and our favorite recipes–some of which are exclusive to only the menu plan!