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”
But the field of exercise and those undergoing cancer treatment is relatively new, and the experts said more research is needed. It’s important for the growing population of cancer survivors – now 15.5 million and growing quickly – and their loved ones.