Budwig Diet

Effects of flaxseed and its components on cancer and tumor growth

Research studies on animals[1]

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Flaxseed is a rich source of mammalian lignans (phytoestrogens, i.e. plant compounds which function similarly to estrogen) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). Diets containing an abundance of phytoestrogens and omega-3 fatty acids are known to have cancer-fighting effects.

  • Effect of flaxseed supplementation on prostatic carcinoma in transgenic mice

    Published in Urology in 2002, this study aimed to determine whether the addition of 5% flaxseed to a standardized rat and mouse reference diet used in biomedical research was able to inhibit the growth and development of prostate cancer in the studied mouse model.

    135 male mice were split into an experimental and a control group, with only the former receiving an additional 5% flaxseed by weight. Half of each group were treated for 20 weeks, the other for 30 weeks.

    While nearly all the mice developed prostate cancer (100% of the control, 97% of the flaxseed group), the tumors grown by the control group weighed nearly double of those in the experimental group.

    Also, while at 20 weeks there was little difference in tumor grade between the two main groups; at 30 weeks, the mice treated to the flaxseed supplementation showed significantly less aggressive tumors. A similar tendency was apparent in the number of lung and lymph node metastases which was lower in the experimental group.

  • Dietary flaxseed inhibits human breast cancer growth and metastasis and downregulates expression of insulin-like growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor.

    This study (published in Nutrition and Cancer in 2002) ascertained the effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastatic spread of implanted human breast cancer in mice.

    Mice kept on an identical basal diet were inoculated with estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer cells. After they had "dutifully" developed the desired tumors, they were split into two groups which were comparable regarding tumor size and bodily weight.

    The first group continued to eat the same diet, the second group received an additional (10%) supplement of flaxseed. All mice were killed seven weeks later.

    Significant differences were found in a number of important parameters, with the flaxseed-supplemented group showing slowed-down tumor growth and less metastasis (lung, lymph node, number of metastatic tumors — overall metastasis was nearly halved).

    Since there was a concomitant downregulatation of IGF and EGFR, the researchers concluded that the inhibition of human breast cancer growth and metastasis in mice thanks to flaxseed supplementation was partially owed to the downregulation of these proteins.

  • Flaxseed supplementation and early markers of colon carcinogenesis.

    This animal study published in Cancer letters in 1992 aimed to determine whether flaxseed would lower the risk of developing colon cancer (in rats).

    As flaxseed is digested, it produces lignans in the colon which are deemed potentially anticarcinogenic.

    After artificially inducing colon cancer in five groups of male rats by injecting a carcinogenic compound (used in biological research notably for this purpose), the animals were put on a high-fat diet over four weeks, with four of the groups receiving a supplement of either 5% or 10% flaxseed meal or flaxseed flour.

    All rats that had received the supplement showed a significantly reduced (by about 50%) number of aberrant crypts and foci (no relation to the amount of flaxseed administered was detected). The researchers concluded that flaxseed may lower colon cancer risk.
  • Flaxseed and its lignan and oil components reduce mammary tumor growth at a late stage of carcinogenesis.

    While flaxseed as an abundant source of lignan precursors and alpha-linolenic acid had already been shown to exert protective effects in the early stages of cancer in rats, this animal study published in Carcinogenesis in 1996 aimed to elucidate whether flaxseed fed much later (13 weeks) into the cancer process would shrink established mammary tumors and lessen new tumor growth.

    Several groups of rats were either fed a basal diet or supplemented with a lignan precursor isolate derived from flaxseed, with flaxseed oil or with flaxseed proper. All the groups that received flaxseed, oil or flaxseed derivate supplementation showed an over 50% reduction in tumor volume.

    The difference found was that the lignan precursor in flaxseed seemed to exert its beneficial effects during the promotional stage of cancer development while flax oil showed greater effectiveness with already established tumors.

More research studies incl. on humans.

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1 Please note Healing Cancer Naturally's stance on animal experimentation.

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