SOURCE ET SUITE
I’ve previously discussed the role of dietary lignans in the reduction
of breast cancer risk and improvement in breast cancer survival, based
on studies that showed that women with breast cancer who ate the most
lignans appeared to live longer (See Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival).
However, lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom—in seeds, whole
grains, vegetables, fruits, berries—so how do we know lignans aren’t
merely a marker for the intake of unrefined plant foods. For example,
those who eat lots of plants—vegetarians—have about eight times the lignan intake than omnivores.
In a petri dish, lignans have been shown to both have direct anticancer growth activity against human breast cancer cells and to prevent
their cancer cell migration. But it wasn’t until 2005 that it was put
to the test in people. Researchers from the University of Toronto
conducted a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial
of flaxseeds, the world’s most concentrated source of lignans in breast
cancer patients. The researchers found that flax appears to have the
potential to reduce human breast tumor growth in just a matter of weeks.
Therefore, I started recommending ground flax seeds to breast cancer
Can lignans also help prevent breast cancer in the first place? High lignan intake is also associated
with reduced breast cancer risk, but again lignan intake may just be
saying an indicator of high plant food intake in general. So researchers
from the University of Kansas gave women at high risk for breast cancer
a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day for a year, and found on average a drop in precancerous changes in the breast.