Research news and views on preventing and surviving cancer
Author: Karen Collins
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, is AICR’s Nutrition Advisor. Karen is a speaker, writer and consultant who specializes in helping people make sense of nutrition news. You can follow her blog, Smart Bytes®, through her website and follow her on Twitter @KarenCollinsRD.
Q: Does flaxseed protect against breast cancer or increase the risk?
A: Flaxseed most often raises questions regarding breast cancer because of its compounds called lignans. These compounds, sometimes called phytoestrogens, have a chemical structure similar to estrogen. At first glance, it might seem that would increase risk of estrogen-sensitive (ER-positive) breast cancer, which is spurred by excess estrogen.
However, research suggests these tiny brown seeds do not increase cancer risk and could even be protective.
In animal studies of human breast cancer, flaxseed and lignans isolated from it reduce breast cancer development, slow growth of existing breast tumors and lower levels of several growth factors that promote breast cancer. Human studies are limited but suggest that if anything, including one to four tablespoons of flaxseed per day might reduce breast cancer risk, especially in post-menopausal women. Read more… “HealthTalk: Flaxseed and Breast Cancer”
Do high-fat diets lead to cancer? Not necessarily. That’s a common concern though: The most recent AICR awareness survey shows that more than 4 in 10 people think that high-fat diets can be a cause of cancer. However, whether your diet is higher or lower in fat, it’s your overall eating choices that matter to reduce your risk of cancer.
Early research on diet and cancer risk did suggest a link to fat consumption, since countries with low fat intake (for example, Japan) had lower rates of cancer than countries (like the U.S.) with higher-fat diets. After further study, when scientists followed people over time and adjusted for other eating and lifestyle choices, differences in cancer risk no longer seemed related to fat consumption.
Q: I’m a healthy weight, so do I still need to think about lifestyle to lower my cancer risk?
A: Yes! Overweight is a sign of increased cancer risk, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Overweight and obesity are now linked to at least 11 cancers. Studies suggest that this link reflects influences of chronic inflammation and elevated levels of hormones involved in metabolic processes, like insulin. But you can be a normal weight and still have the metabolic issues associated with obesity. Read more… “HealthTalk: A healthy weight, metabolic syndrome and cancer risk”
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