Transcript: Flax Seeds For Breast Pain
A study on the effect of flax seed ingestion on the menstrual cycle found a tablespoon a day of ground flax seeds lengthened the luteal phase, meaning delayed their next period by about a day, and resulted in fewer anovulatory cycles. These are the same kind of improvements in ovarian function seen in women eating plant-based diets, a longer luteal phase and fewer anovulatory cycles, fewer failed ovulations, an indication that vegetarian women have fewer disturbances in their cycles. In fact those eating vegan never failed to ovulate at all, similar to women eating daily flax.
Since those same hormonal changes associated with eating more plant-based diets seemed to improve premenstrual and menstrual symptoms such as breast pain, maybe flax seeds would help too. The effects of dietary flaxseed in women with breast pain associated with their cycles. Although hormone treatments, such as tamoxifen, may be helpful, they often cause unpleasant side effects and there may be risks associated with long-term use of hormonal therapy. Dietary flaxseed is therefore an attractive alternative for controlling these symptoms.
So, 116 young women with severe cyclical mastalgia, severe menstrual breast pain, over a pre-study period of 6 months were randomized in a double-blind manner to either a muffin containing about 3 and a half tablespoons of flax seed or, a placebo muffin and followed for a few cycles. There was some placebo muffin effect, but there was a significantly greater reduction in reported breast pain, breast swelling, and breast lumpiness in the flaxseed group. It is concluded that flaxseed is effective in relieving symptoms of cyclical mastalgia without significant side effects and might be considered as an alternative treatment for cyclical mastalgia.
But if it works, and there are only good side effects, why is it an alternative treatment, and not the primary, first line treatment? Well, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not issued treatment guidelines, but the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has. They first dispel the myth that caffeine is to blame or that vitamin E supplements are helpful. Instead, Dietary flaxseed should be considered as a first-line therapy for menstrual breast pain, and only then consider drugs if flax doesn't work. Oh, and breast pain should not be treated by use of mastectomy.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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