Research find flaxseed can help prevent, treat hormone-associated cancers

Monday, October 29, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: flaxseed, hormones, cancer

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(NaturalNews) There may be more benefits to eating flaxseed than simply its tendency to promote regularity and prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes. An index of research compiled by Sayer Ji over at GreenMedInfo.com reveals that flaxseed is also rich in hormone-modulating factors such as phytoestrogens, which can actually help reduce harmful estrogen activity in the body, particularly as such activity is related to spurring the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Ji explains that, based on the findings of numerous studies, it appears as though flaxseed is fully capable of protecting against breast, prostate, and other hormone-related cancers without the need for side effect-ridden pharmaceutical drugs. The key activity responsible for this benefit, he says, is Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulation (SERM), or the ability to down-regulate estrogen activity in tissues where it can cause harm, and up-regulate it in other places where it can bring benefits.

"Although an increasingly common mantra in the conventional medical community (particularly in the field of oncology) is to identify all estrogens, including phytoestrogens, as 'carcinogenic,' the weight of the evidence stands against this accusation, both in the case of soy and flaxseed," alleges Ji. "It helps to understand the biochemistry in order to make sense of how a plant estrogen may actually reduce estrogen activity in the body."

According to Ji, the digestion of flaxseed results in a "fermentive biotransformation" process in the gut, which in turn produces estrogen modulators such as enterodiol (END) and enterolactone (ENL). These compounds are considered to be both mildly estrogenic and anti-estrogenic, depending on their target, which basically means they can be beneficial in many cases where they effectively block other more harmful estrogens from binding to estrogen receptors throughout the body.

So instead of always being harmful, particularly in men, plant-based phytoestrogens may serve the functional purpose of blocking harmful estrogens from feeding hormone-related cancers, as illustrated in several studies, including a 2005 study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. Patients who received a 25-gram flaxseed-containing muffin for 32 days were observed to have a significant reduction in tumor markers, as well as a significant increase in apoptosis, or the programmed death of cancer cells.

Similarly, a 2008 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that men taking a flaxseed-supplemented diet fared much better in terms of cancer cell proliferation compared to men on a non-flaxseed diet. In both cases, flaxseed demonstrably reduced cancer cell activity and spread, suggesting that it could play a much more active role in cancer treatment and prevention than it currently does.

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