Doctor's Note

The population data I mention at the beginning is from my previous video, Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Epidemiological Evidence. And, before that, I explore the role lignan phytonutrients may play in prevention in Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Prevention.

I have some more videos coming up on the role diet plays in angiogenesis—the formation of new blood vessels to enable tumors to grow. But, I’ve touched on it already in Cancer as an Autoimmune Disease, and How Tumors Use Meat to Grow: Xeno-Autoantibodies.

The results here are similar to what was found with the other class of phytoestrogens in soy (Breast Cancer Survival and Soy). A similar study was carried out in prostate cancer patients (see Flax Seeds vs. Prostate Cancer). This is the final video of this series on flax. You can also check out my video on the use of flax in diabetes (see Flax Seeds vs. Diabetes), and in treating sensitive skin (see Flax Seeds for Sensitive Skin).

For further context, also check out my associated blog posts: Treating Sensitive Skin From the Inside Out, and Flax and Breast Cancer Prevention.

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  • Kobby

    Dr. Greger,

    This topic might not be related to this video but i would ask anyway. What is the best way to get my blood pressure down. I ate very well(vegan), cook from scratch, no soft drinks, butter, and all the bad stuff. triglyceride, HDL, LDL are all good but the blood pressure wont go down. i drink lot of hibiscus tea and exercise regularly and thinking about drinking more coconut water but i want to know what you think. Pls help. Love what you do.

    • Hi, i am not Dr. Greger but i sow your coment and i hope i can help, i am 24 now, and i had the blood preasure problem…not anymore :) if i might give you some advice about that tricky devil which made me go nuts trying to lower it for a long time. – Stop using salt at all for a couple a days, and see if the salt is the reason, is hard, i know but is an experiment you need to make yourself so you can decide to regulate sodium intake ,as efectively as you can(NOTICE MY MISTAKE : Soy souce is full of salt i used it a lot in salad dressing, keep truck of the hidden salt in foods. Notice when you measure your blood preassure(NOTICE M.M. :I eat a lot and allways after lunch i get my B.P. up 500ml greet tea, 500 ml hibiscus tea, a cup of cocoa, a cup of amla powder, sometims coffee < which is great, but experiment and see mabie the too much fluids you intake might be the cause of you H.B.P. that your body try to flush from your kidneys through urinating as soon, which is cool, but dont forget, that with a vegan diet we intake extra fluids from fruits and vegetable( which consist of 90% of water by themself, and the thing which you might think is a bit off i left for last, meditation…i know is wiard but for me all of these togather was the answer to my HBP and to my high Cholesterol and LDL..; sorry for my english, but i live in greece, stay well :)

      • beccadoggie10

        Bjurni Selfo, Although I had been severly overweight for years, I never had a blood pressure problem, partially because I rarely ate processed foods. If I did, I bought the lowest salt content I could find and put the salt shaker on the table for my husband (he has severely low blood pressure and will pass out unless he uses a huge amount of salt).
        However I did have high cholesterol as I learned when the hospital physician looking for ways to increase my bill order blood tests. My bad cholesterol was 300. He immediately put me on drugs, and I reacted. So he put me on more drugs to reduce the reaction, and I reacted to them. Finally, I insisted that I immediately change my diet and began to eat vegan and by the time I was released from the rehab unit, my cholesterol was (temporarily) closer to normal.It went up after I left the hospital while I was learning how to season foods without butter, avocado, coconut, and learning how to reduce my meat consumption. But, I was still eating wild Alaskan salmon, which made me feel better, but still contained cholesterol. With this chat room, I learned to truly eat vegan. (Fish has not been eaten for nearly a 1 1/2 years now, and my cholesterol is still about 100.I recommend learning how to season without salt –use herbs instead. Garlic also helps in two ways. It seems to open the arteries and allow the blood to flow more freely and other online physicians say it reduces blood cholesterol. I use fresh garlic often with ginger and turmeric root because they reduce pain and inflammation as well as Advil, but without the damage to the stomach..
        BTW, seafood as in fish are fine. Seafood as in shell fish are high in cholesterol. Greece serves a lot of shellfish. It may be tough, but limit your consumption. I’m originally from Colorado and ate mostly beef. If I can reduce beef from my diet, you can reduce shell fish.Hope this helps.

        • Thank you for your advice, but as i said, it was 325 until 5 or 6 months ago, now it must be under 150 and keeps going down :) and i feel very proud of it, and all this thanks to Dr. Greger advices and research :) , It is in worlds conception that we eat a lot of seafood here in greece, but that is not true, we do eat seafood as fish and shellfish, but not much, for matter of fact i dont know anyone who eats more than once a week and most of the time not even that, and in small portions, i know people corelate Greece>Mediteranean diet and seafood , but unfortunately that is not the case in now days people here eat a loooot of meat, with the most used meat to be pork, and if you come to greece you will see a loooot of obesity, i understood this is dificoult to digest but this is just how reality is here:) (By the way, i am speaking for the majority of the people not all of them, i live in a big city so that is what i have in minde.

          • beccadoggie10

            We loved our stay in Greece, and your Feta and lamb was outstanding, especially compared to the way animals are fed in the USA. U.S. meat animals are often fed corn and soy created in a laboratory with genetically modified organisms of another species like E-coli bacteria, soil pathogens or viruses. And now increasingly, GMO grasses, alfalfa, or hay. It is natural for livestock to eat “grasses”. All meat from farm raised fish, to cattle, pork, rabbits, lamb and everything in between are often grown in factory conditions that never see the light of day, are unable to stretch their legs, treated cruely by farm laborers who increase the risk of illness and pain to the animals.

            I no longer eat meat, Feta or seafood. Instead, I eat chick peas (garbanzo beans), lentils, cannellini and other beans with rice, quinoa, and various whole grains with lots of veggies, dark leafy greens, root veggies, tomatoes, basil, and various herbs and mints. But nothing tasted as delicious as the fresh vegetables grown without petrochemical pest controls, the fresh Feta cheeses at the little cafes where we stopped in Athens, on the isle of Rhodes, and on Thera and Mykonos, when we left the paths of the tourists and explored.

            Yes, we saw many overweight Greeks. But, we Americans are becoming the most obese people on the planet and our dietary problems are similar. Too many desserts, too much meat and cheese and not enough veggies, whole grains, and beans. And way too much sitting and not exercising. How life has changed from both of our ancestors.

            I visited Greece after I had a total knee replacement (fractured hip was replaced a year before), but the combination made walking difficult at best. And, there was so much walking. Whenever possible, my husband hired a car to take me to a specific place where I waited and sipped a fruit softee while he toured the Isle of Mykonos. I longed to visit the windmills, but found them beyond my reach, unable to walk that far so I sat and photographed them from afar. We would have loved to move to Mykonos, just from that one day we spent there.

          • The first time I was ever obese was when I lived in Greece from ’83-’85. Greeks consume a LOT of olive oil, which is high in calories, as well as a lot of bread. Greeks do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, which is the positive aspect of theri diet. Yes, America has the highest obesity rate in the world, but Greece is not far behind at 5th in the world. Greece also has a very high smoking rate. My stepmother is from there and her sister recently died of lung cancer, as she was a chain smoker, as many Greek are.

          • beccadoggie10

            You are correct. Greeks (and Italians) eat a lot of olive oil and while it is healthier than butter, it is still fat, which accumulates if not enough exercise occurs.

            I find it easier to reduce my fat consumption than increase my exercise although, I need to get away from my computer and exercise more often.

            And yes, there is a very high rate of smoking in Greece, Turkey and throughout most of the continent as well as in Russia, and China. My father did not die of lung cancer, although he was a chain smoker. He had heart problems and died of another mysterious cancer. He developed a fast growing brain cancer. The tumor was the size of an ostrich egg and turned him into a vegetable after it was removed. Within a week, the tumor grew back and he died.

            The air and water of Denver, Colorado is so toxic that after my father’s death and college, I moved to the mountains. My brother and moved moved to D.C. I think government secrecy was part of the reason for my father’s death. Experiments were done on people without their knowledge, and then there was the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a chemical weapons manufacturing center, cloaked in government secrecy. My father often visited friends who lived in the proximity. Both of his friends also died of mysterious cancers.

            Many Americans have stopped smoking, but cancers continue, even lung cancers occur to non-smokers. Some non-smokers spray petrochemical pest controls, others use other solvents which increase the risk.

            This planet is increasingly become toxic; it’s not just Greece.

          • Then you are lucky you didnt visit Santorini, cos you wouldnt have left from there, i live in Crete by the way, which is the biggest island of greece.And you are right, we do have a lot of fresh food here, but that is overpriced cos is not much that is why we import a lot, we do have live stock, sheep being the most, but it is not many if you compear it to the population so we import most of meat from holland, macedonia, and new zeland.And i can imagin the industrialized pig farms in holland and lamb and sheep in new zeland.The problem is that everything is getting industrialized and stufed with hormones and insecticides so they can compeat the price of the market, as a friend of mine sayed once, and he is a farmer, that he’s cocambers grow in one night just popping up like ballons, and he saied that you can actualy hear the sound of poping and growing when he spray them with some hormones so they can grow fast, and the grow like water ballon, and fish…..well we do have a lot of fish but most of it that you will finde in the market is from fishfarms just a few is from the sea and a lot more from import, cos they get more profit selling the ‘Greek Catch’ at other countries and selling the import at greece with higher price…i know is crazie and i dont want to disapoint you, but i realized all this when i noticed my cholesterol level going crazie when i was working to the hotel i used to work, where the food was amaizingly deliciouse, and i could eat plenty of ‘fresh fish’ from farms and fresh ‘shell fish’ from california and delicious lamb chops from New zeland…Freshly Frozen ;)

            But thanks to NutritionFacts i start realizing what is going on. and was dificoult at first, but now only veggies, fruits and legumes, nuts and seeds :) and my doctor got shoked when he sow the ldl and hdl level in just one month of a healthy vegan diet, my HDL doubled and my Chilesterol felt by 50 points per month almost, but as i sayed, cos of healthy vegan and not just vegan, cos i tried just vegan and didnt work even half as good as with the tip’s of Dr.Greger on nuts, seeds , beverages, spices and categorizing the veggies and fruits in healthy, healthier and super duper healthy :)

          • beccadoggie10

            We did spend the day in Santorini. My husband downloaded my images to a CD while I sat in a restaurant overlooking the Aegean Sea and the community of Fira.

            If I would have been able to walk, I would have had more of an affinity for this place, as it is so picturesque, and such a wonderful place to explore. It would have been even better if we could have spent the night on Santorini, but with a new knee replacement and placing most of my weight on a cane, walking the streets would have been treacherous for me.
            Check out a couple of my snapshots at: and

          • Well, i wish your knee is not a truble to you anymore to walk and travell, there are plenty of places around the world to visit and explore.So i guess if you couldnt walk, then you couldnt visit the Red, the Black and the White beach, mabie another time :)

    • Veganrunner

      Hi Kobby,

      Do you limit your sodium? I am sure you do. But you didn’t mention it.

    • beccadoggie10

      Do you eat cheese? Cheese is not only high in cholesterol, but it’s high in salt content. My fingers hurt when I eat cheese. I can sense my arteries clogging. Fresh garlic helps reduce that sensation, but avoidance of shellfish, and eating vegan has really helped keep my cholesterol under control.

      I don’t know if coconut water is high in cholesterol. I recall reading that the “meat” of coconut is very high in cholesterol.

      Since there is so much confusion on coconuts, I wonder if the pro benefits are funded by vested interests. As for now, I err on the side of precaution, and avoid foods that are laden with controversy.

      • ted

        There is no cholesterol in coconut water or coconut meat. No plant products contain any appreciable amounts of cholesterol. Since coconut oil is high in saturated fat, that might increase one’s cholesterol level, but that’s due to the saturated fat. There is no cholesterol in coconut oil.

    • Hypertension seems to correlate better with a high sodium-to-potassium ratio than it does with sodium alone. See Sodium and Potassium in the Pathogenesis of Hypertension, N Engl J Med 2007; 356:1966-1978
      for a review.
      So its also important to eat a high-potassium diet. Beans, tomatoes, potatoes, greens and yes bananas are all good sources, but be wary of the sodium added to canned vegetables.

      • beccadoggie10

        There are several salt substitute products on the market but most contain potassium chloride. Finding a low-potassium salt substitute is challenging, because there are few available. My mother used to use Morton Lite-Salt, which contains 50 percent less sodium than regular salt because it is blended with potassium chloride. It also contains iodine, an essential nutrient.
        Lite Salt has less potassium than other substitutes because it is mixed with sodium chloride. And, Morton warns that this product should NOT BE USED if you are on a sodium- or potassium-free diet.

        Read more:

        Also, see:

    • How much sodium (salt) do you eat? Canned foods can have a lot. Check labels. Salt raises blood pressure within minutes.

    • beccadoggie10

      Salt is the reason my father’s blood pressure was high; and despite my weight, not using salt is the reason my blood pressure is very low! Physicians often have nurses check it twice, on each arm and are so surprised when my blood pressure shows a very low reading.

      Hence, I would say to avoiding salting your food, avoid buying processed foods, which are often highly salted. And instead adding celery, of which 1 cup chopped is 96mg of sodium, instead of salting foods.

      If you buy miso, beware it’s very high in sodium. I always buy Eden Organic

      Shiro Miso, Organic Rice & Soybean, which has the lowest sodium content of all I’ve seen, but the number is still quite high. So, I use a smaller amount and dilute.

      Processed foods contain lots of sodium/salt.

    • Not a Dr

      Blood pressure is a common problem in todays society mostly because of the lifestyle we live with processed foods, little exercise and high stress loads. However here re some things to consider:
      1. Do you really have high blood pressure? Blood pressure normally fluctuates during the day due to variations in activities, stress and hormones. So, to b sure you have high blood pressure see a health care professional to have it checked. Your family physicians office has the proper equipment to verify your pressure.
      2. Use dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce and maintain healthy blood pressure. Limit salt intake to recommended milligram amounts established by your healthcare provider. Limiting salt intake may mean reducing or eliminating processed foods such as microwavable meals, convenience foods, deli foods, condiments such as ketchup, and canned soups/foods. Most salt intake is consumed in processed foods when sodium is added for taste and preservation to food during production.
      3. After consulting with your family physician, start an age and health appropriate exercise routine. Walking is a great form of exercise with many health benefits, the most important being it strengthens the heart over time. Startslow as directed by your Doctor.
      4. Add heart healthy herbs and spices to your diet. Garlic is known to improve blood pressure. However, consult your physician to prevent any medication conflicts.
      5. Avoid dehydration. Dehydration can cause blood pressure fluctuations.
      6. Dont smoke or eat cured or preserved meats. They are high in sodium.
      7. Sleep enough hours each night appropriately for your health and age. Poor sleep can elevate stress hormones and elevate blood pressure.
      8. Remove chemicals from your environment as much as possible.
      9. Take time to participate in a leisure activity you enjoy.
      10. Eliminate sources of conflict in your life. Conflict causes stress and can elevate blood pressure.
      Good luck-

      • Not a Dr.

        11. Dont consume caffiene or stimulating beverages. Coffee has large amounts of caffiene that can elevate blood pressure and energy drinks also. Even herbal teas can have caffiene and stimulating substances that can elevate blood pressure. Its best to eliminate them from your diet completely until your blood pressure is under control and your Doctor has determined its safe to reintroduce them to your diet in liited amounts.
        12. Evaluate all herbal and over the counter substances and medications you are using for potential bood pressure elevating effects. Many over the counter medications can elevate your blood pressure. Some herbs can also elevate your blood pressure and can even increase risk of stroke.. even vitamins today are being formulated with herbs in them.
        13. Discuss magnesium supplementation with your doctor. Magnesium can help reduce blood pressure when taken responsiblly as directed by your doctor. Your doctor may require a blood test to check your magnesium levels prior to supplementation.
        14.Eat more potatoes. Potatoes are high in potassium, a mineral that relaxes blood vessel walls and reduces blood pressure. However, do not attempt potassium supplementation without direction and supervision from your doctor. Potassium supplements can reduce blood pressure to dangerously low levels if not used responsiblly.

        Good luck-

        • Not a Dr.

          15. Discuss niacin supplementation with your Doctor, niacin works to relax vessel walls nd reduce blood pressure, however as with any supplements or medications, discuss it with your doctor first for recommendations.

          Whew! I think thats enough to get you started. If lifestyle and dietary changes are not sufficient to normalize your blood pressure, then your cardiologist or primary physician will take the appropriate action to ensure your good health, which may include prescription beta blockers or other appropriate action. You may also want to see an endocrinologist if your blood pressure is difficult to control. There are tests an endocrinologist can do to determine if your high blood pressure is related to an endocrine problem. Certain endocrine disorders can elevate blood pressure as can kidney disease or even adrenal/kidney tumors.

          Wish you all the best – :)

    • chihuahua

      I drink 8oz pure beet juice daily. My blood pressure is now normal. Hope this helps you.

  • Thea

    Data like this is so clear to me. Yet when I tried to share these videos with someone who is on Tamoxafin (sp?) and has gone through all the treatments for breast cancer, she said that flaxseeds have too much phytoestrogens in them for her to eat them. They were “counter-indicated”. Obviously, this is what her doctor and/or nutritionist is telling her. I understand why she feels she has to listen to them, but the situation drives me nuts. I wish more people could understand what the science is telling us.

    • Plantstrongdoc


      Your comments are always great and relevant.

      The problem is that in medschool you learn absolutely nothing about nutrition, diet and the relation to disease – and definitely nothing about treating/improving a disease with diet. NOTHING!

      And ask dr. Greger or John McDougall what happens if you mention diet and disease in a big fancy hospital…

      And look: Surgery is sexy, prescribing drugs is cool, and a MD talking about broccoli and seeds must be nuts……;-)

      Trust the minority – not the majority……

      • beccadoggie10

        Medical schools also do not teach physicians which questions to ask when someone has been exposed to pesticides, nor do they teach how to treat patients for pesticide poisoning.

        One physician to which I went said it was all in my mind. I did not return to him. If I know more than the doctor, that is a sad situation. Pesticide poisoning mimics symptoms/conditions of other diseases. Having numbness, tickling, tingling, burning, pricking, of a person’s skin with no apparent reason does not mean that one is lacking B-12. It may mean exposure to volatile organic compounds, including pesticides. This is especially true when a patent brings with them the container of the product they were using.

        Sometimes toxicological screening tests may not show what has occurred, as I found when I was exposed to DDVP, which has since been banned because it caused sterility in men. It was not banned because I coughed up blood for nearly a year, nor that I experienced cognitive damage including the inability to add up simple numbers, assemble easy puzzles, or remember the reasons for my actions. Those were blamed on my not paying attention.

        It takes a physician that is trained in toxicology to properly diagnose some one who has been poisoned, and one does not have to drink the chemical compound to experience these reactions.

        I also had similar reactions when overly exposed to Minwax chemical floor stripper, which permeated the gloves I was wearing and wetted my hands including fingers. But it was my breathing problems that put my occupational toxicologist trained internal medicine physician into action mode. I could exhale, but not completely inhale and either way, the breathing was shallow, not deep. This particular physician knew exactly what should be immediately done and went into emergency mode.

        • Thea

          beccadoggie10: You have been through so much in your life. Your post is inspiring to me, though. You clearly stayed strong and advocated for yourself. That’s not easy. Good for you.

          • beccadoggie10

            I sincerely feel that the only reason I’m still alive is because of eating certified organic non-processed foods since 1986. Most of the chemical poisoning occurred in 1982 and 1999. Since 1999, I’ve tried very hard to avoid toxic shampoos, pharmaceuticals, and other products. Not always successful however.

            Recently, my hair dresser “fired me” because I insulted him, saying that he gave me a bad hair cut. Before he fired me, he insisted on washing my hair with his shampoo, something I rejected for years, but desperately needed a hair cut.

            My scalp burned for 3 days thereafter, even though the first thing I did when arriving home was to wash my hair again. (It had been washed in baking soda and Dr. Bronner’s gentle liquid soap prior to going, but that wasn’t good enough for him.) After the burning stopped, the itching began.

            Cosmetics, alike shampoos are NOT regulated by the federal government. Read the Environmental Working Group report, Skin Deep on shampoo.

            But, in the mean time, he told me never to come back again. And, after that episode, of his ignoring my wishes three times (once with his toxic shampoo because he insisted he wash my hair after I just washed it, and another time when he blew my hair dry before I drove to the pool where I took physical therapy and had to be swimming) and then charged me extra for this.

            I was willing to pay him not to wash my hair and not to blow it dry, but he refused.

            I have no desire to ever return or recommend him to anyone.

      • Thea

        Hey Doc, thanks for the kind words!

        re: “And look: Surgery is sexy, prescribing drugs is cool, and a MD talking about broccoli and seeds must be nuts”
        You made me laugh. :-)

        I’m glad there are doc like you around.

      • beccadoggie10

        State hospitals are funded by either the chemical or pharmaceutical industry, which are basically the same thing. The economy is run of prescribing pharmaceuticals, or pushing surgery, and making people sick.

        I am chemically sensitive thanks to exposures to volatile organic compounds which are also in aerosols and the Swifter floor cleaners which the hospital cleanup crew used. They made me dizzy, spaced out, and like on was in a brain fog. But, it was against hospital policy that I bring my air purifier from home which reduced VOCs in my ambient environment. Instead, they pushed drugs! Drugs I had never taken before in my life. And with reactions to drugs meant layering me on additionally drugs. By the time I checked out two weeks later, I was on 10 drugs that I never had before in my life (and did NOT renew).

        When I requested steamed broccoli, I received mushy, pressure cooked broccoli without nutrients. When I refused to eat meat because it contained cholesterol, the physician prescribed unseasoned beans and white rice (without fiber or the nutrients, which are in brown rice); the hospital would not even let me used garlic, ginger or turmeric. Yuk! It was awful but I did not want drugs. Everyone else welcomed friend chicken, but I refused to eat it.

        When I wanted to be on the rehab floor after receiving a total knee replacement the following year, I was told that I would have to have my good knee replaced to be on the floor. That makes no sense whatsoever. There was and is still nothing wrong with my good knee. Plus, the life span of a prosthesis is only 10 years.

        In a way, I hope they do reduce Medicare and reduce the unnecessary surgeries that most people have. People can reduce the inflammation and pain without surgery and drugs, using exercise, water therapy, and fresh herbs (garlic, ginger, and turmeric). I just did not know that then. Plus, my injured knee kept leaving the cradle. I would suddenly become detached while walking with a cane and did not dare walk without a cane.

        • If you have to go into the hospital again, tell them you are a vegan – or at least a vegetarian. Request salads and lots of raw vegetables. (bring your own seasonings, shhhh…)

          • beccadoggie10

            Salads and most raw veggies do not have all the nutrients we need when eating vegan. We also need whole grains and beans/lentil/legumes to make complimentary proteins. I get very hungry just eating veggies.
            Plus, what I discovered in the hospital is they consider lettuce a healthy veggie. Lettuce is basically water, and there is little nutrition in it. It’s not like a dark, leafy green.
            I hope I never have to go to the hospital again. It’s a very toxic place.

    • Phytoestrogens are good things, not bad things. They fill up your estrogen receptor sites and protect you from common female diseases caused by having too much estrogen.

  • Juan

    Very interesting! Do you know if they used whole flax seed or ground flax seed? I have read that whole flaxseed doesn’t get digested so if that is true, would whole flax seed have these benefits?

    • AlanRoy

      1/4 cup ground flax seed per day. You can read it in the report he put on the screen, and he says it in the video. I recommend you grind it fresh in a little coffee grinder and add it to your daily green smoothie.

    • tzulu

      It was ground flaxseed – Just 1 tablespoon with breakfast.

      I just googled “flaxseed nausea” and got a lot of hits… apparently I’m not alone. Wish I knew why, though – or some sort of work-around.

      • Thea

        tzulu, your reaction is a serious bummer. It’s nice to know you are not alone, but it would be even nicer not to have a flaxseed problem.

        On the plus side, your diet that you described above sounds so amazingly healthy. I am in awe. I think you are doing all that you can to take care of yourself.

        A thought: If I understood your original post correctly, it sounds like you can tolerate some amount of flaxseed, just not as much as a tablespoon a day. So, I wonder if your body is responding to flaxseed the way other people respond to beans when they aren’t used to eating them. On that theory, then, you might be able to start with small amounts of flaxseed (a half teaspoon a day?) and slowly work your way up to more. Maybe?

        This is just a wild, lay-persons idea. I’m not saying I know what is going on or if it will work or not. It just seems like in your case, trying to work the flaxseed into your diet would be worth the effort – IF you can do so without making yourself miserable.

        My other thought was that some people react flatulent-ly to beans because they don’t have the right gut bacteria to process it. I wonder it that is possible (hard to imagine given your healthy diet) if you simply lack the gut bacteria to process flax and maybe that could be fixed.

        The purpose of this post is just to try to provide some support. Good luck!

        • tzulu

          Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Thea.
          I think I will try your suggestion of adding it slowly back into my daily diet.
          And the gut flora issue had crossed my mind. I can only imagine what affects the chemo could have had system wide – there too, I assume? I have started including probiotics with that in mind.
          Thanks again!

      • beccadoggie10

        One tablespoon with breakfast is doable. I could also add some to a fast scratch muffin recipe to get my husband to eat some, as well.

  • tzulu

    Can anyone advise me – I seem to be Flaxseed intolerant???

    I have included a tablespoon of ground flaxseed occasionally in my diet and have recently I tried to increase that to a daily tablespoon and have experienced extreme bloating and nausea – to the point that I was barely able to eat on those days… I also was experiencing constipation.
    In general, I would describe my diet as excellent; I am entirely vegan, approximately 70% raw.
    I was prescribed Tamoxifen, but had to stop taking that because of unbearable side affects. I am relieved to stop taking it anyhow – So tired of all of the chemo treatments!

    • maureen

      I soak 2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds overnight and eat them with my breakfast. Maybe this will help.

  • Bskory

    That study is from 2005. With tumor reduction levels like that, why haven’t we heard more about it since then?

  • beccadoggie10

    If women consume 1/4 cup of flaxseeds per day, can we can PREVENT breast cancer?

  • R.Ian.Flett

    We are neglecting sesame seed here which is usually more easily digested. A mixture of flax and sesame is possibly best as it balances omega 3s and 6s.

    Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(1):65-71. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.630165. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

    Comparative effects of sesame seed lignan and flaxseed lignan in reducing the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen in athymic mice.


    Flaxseed (FS) has a breast tumor-reducing effect, possibly because of its high content of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) lignan. Sesame seed (SS) is rich in the lignan sesamin (SES) but is non-protective. Both lignans are metabolized to estrogen-like enterodiol and enterolactone. The objective of this study was to differentiate the effects of SDG and SES on established human estrogen receptor-positive breast tumors (MCF-7) in athymic mice with high serum estrogen to help explain the different effects of FS and SS. Mice were fed for 8 wk the basal diet (BD, control) or BD supplemented with 1 g/kg SDG or SES. SES reduced palpable tumor size by 23% compared to control, whereas SDG did not differ from SES or control. Both treatments reduced tumor cell proliferation, but only SES increased apoptosis. SDG and SES reduced human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and endothelial growth factor receptor expressions, but only SES reduced downstream pMAPK. Neither treatment affected IGF-1R, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, Akt, pAkt, or MAPK of the growth factor signaling pathway. Thus, at high serum estrogen levels, SDG may not account for the tumor reducing effect of FS. SES was more effective than SDG in reducing breast tumor growth, but its effect may have been lost when consumed as a component of SS.

  • Laina Darrow

    Dr. Gregor,

    In this test study, were the participants eating a heathy diet in addition to the flax seed or were they eating the typical standard diet?

    Also, do you have a recipe that has the right amount of flax seed in each muffin, or can you take any muffin recipe and add the right amount of ground flax seed without ruining the recipe?

    For a 1 dozen muffin recipe, that would be about 3 cups of flaxseed. I’m interested in this because I have a friend that has breast cancer and would like to find a tasty, healthy muffin recipe to offer her.

    Thanks for all your helpful videos. I just subscribed about a month ago and it’s great getting nutritional studies to watch and listen to in my box each morning. Much nicer than having to always read everything. What a great idea!

  • WAIT A MINUTE! If I ate 1/4 cup of flaxseed everyday I would have to LIVE in the bathroom. Important question – was that ground flax seeds or whole flax seeds? They do completely different things on their way to their final destination.

    • Toxins

      Ground flaxseed is always best, but flaxseeds are not laxatives. Yes they are high in fiber but so is nearly every other plant food. Flaxseeds are not exceptionally unique in this way.

  • Maxim

    How much flax seed is needed per day to achieve these results?

    • Toxins

      Dr. Greger recommends 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day

  • Janice

    What about cooking (muffins) with flaxseed. Doesn’t cooking destroy the benefits of flaxseeds?

  • maureen

    Dr. Greger,

    Do you have a comparison between golden and brown flaxseeds?

    • Wade Patton

      In another video he states that there is no difference in performance between the colors.

  • lovestobevegan

    Enjoy the taste of pumpkin pie, minus the baking, fat, and calories of your standard pie plus the benefits of flaxseed meal.

    Wannabe Pumpkin Pie Filling

    – 1 banana, mashed
    – 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
    – 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
    – Pinch ground ginger
    – Pinch nutmeg
    – Pinch ground cloves

    Mash all ingredients together and feel good about enjoying this antioxidant-rich, pumpkin-pie-filling-esque treat as a healthy snack or dessert.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  • Dana Babu

    Will Flax Seed Oil in capsule form has equal benefit as Flax Sees.
    How much quantity of 500mg of Flax Seed Oil capsules will be required for a day for consumption by a Breast Cancer patient?

    • I would think you would get more benefit from the ground seeds if you were going to choose between the oil and ground seeds.

      • Dana Babu

        Dear Doctor,

        Thanks very much  for the reply
        Warm regards,
        Dana Babu

        • Wade Patton

          A large part of the benefits from flax seeds comes from the fiber content. Oil has no fiber. It is not a whole food. I grind enough flax seed for the week so that i don’t have to grind each day, and store bulk seeds in the refrigerator.

  • Guest

    I am on chemo for breast cancer and my doctor just told me today to quit taking flax. She said I should take it while I am doing chemo. I am on carboplatin,docetaxe, trastuzumab, pertuzumab, Does this seem right?

  • Sandy Burns Rose

    I am on chemo for breast cancer and my doctor just told me today to quit taking flax. She said I should not take it while I am doing chemo. I am on carboplatin,docetaxe, trastuzumab, pertuzumab, Does this seem right?

  • india miller

    Can flax seeds give you breast cancer

  • Ingrid van Berkel

    Dear Dr Greger,

    My name is Ingrid van Berkel, 50 years old from the Netherlands.

    My situation: Almost 10 months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    I had my tumors (2) and lymph nodes removed (I had a mastectomy, because the tumors were too big to have a breast-saving surgery) and after that also my ovaries (preventive).

    I refused chemotherapy.

    My doctor prescibed me Aromatase Inhibtor Anastrozol.

    Now, 6 months later my cholesterol has increased.

    6 months ago:

    Total cholesterol: 4.81 mmol/l = 186.00155 mg/dl

    HDL: 1.4 mmol/l = 54.13766 mg/dl

    LDL: 2.7 mmol/l = 104.40835 mg/dl


    Total cholesterol: 5.79 mmol/l = 223.89791 mg/dl

    HDL: 1.2 mmol/l = 46.40371

    LDL: 3.63 mmol/l = 140.37123 mg/dl

    My estrogen levels increased from 21 to 23 (european estrogen levels).

    I strictly follow your whole-food plant based diet (low in fat). I don’t eat any refined sugars, breads, syrups.

    I limit my fruits to 3-4 a day and don’t drink fruit juice.

    I was very disappointed when I got my blood results this morning.

    I don’t know what to do anymore to lower my cholesterol.

    The leaflet of my prescribed medication(anastrozol) says one of the side effects of taking them can be an increase in cholesterol levels.

    My estrogen AND cholesterol levels increased since taking the medications.

    To be honest, I don’t think the aromatase inhibitors do anything for me.

    My estrogen levels were already low (21) after my i got my ovaries removed.

    I eat mushrooms and flaxseeds everyday.

    Do you think the medication has any added value to me? I’m considering to stop taking them, but wondered how you think about my situation.

    Kind Regards,

    Ingrid van Berkel

  • Dani Dennington

    I have had breast cancer which was receptive to oestrogen and so have now cut out oestrogen and phytoeastrogens from my diet, I am confused about whether in my case flaxseed intake maybe more harmful than beneficial and would like some clarification from anyon in the know please

  • Mandy

    Dear Dr Greger,
    thank you for your scientifically informative site! After being diagnosed with stage 2 invasive lobular carcinoma hormone positive at the beginning of last year, I have been on a difficult and somewhat confusing journey. I chose to have surgery to remove the tumour but refused chemo, radiotherapy and tamoxifen. Instead attempting to utilise my own body’s healing capability with diet and nutrition (this is the bit that’s been extremely confusing) as well as natural hormone therapy. Hence Your book and videos have been invaluable to me. After watching this video and Knowing my situation I am interested to know how much flaxseed I should be taking each day? I am currently taking 1 Tblsp whole linseeds freshly ground daily. Also in my situation would I be advised to adjust any of the RDA’s recommended on your dietary app? For example are there therapeutic amounts I should be having? I have spent a small fortune on supplements and am now wanting to get all my nutrients from food.
    As an aside, I have been told by a few natural health professionals that cooking food in the microwave is very bad for us. According to them it changes the composition of the food and being near the microwave while it’s on is unhealthy. I know you use a microwave occasionally and I wonder if you would consider putting this debate to rest in terms of scientific fact on one of your videos (if you haven’t already?)

    • Thea

      Mandy: I can’t answer the first part of your question, but I have a great answer for you microwave question. :-) The following article addresses the many myths about microwaves from an evidence-based perspective. I think the site (and author) fail to follow the science on many other of it’s pages, but no one is wrong all the time. This article is extremely helpful on the topic of microwaves:
      While Dr. Greger does not directly address microwaves in the manner you are asking for, he does have this video which I think helps to answer the question: “The Best Cooking Method”.
      Hope that helps.

  • Barbara

    I have metastic breast cancer and eat a mainly vegan diet. I have been eating organic pre-ground flaxseeds bought and stored in the refrigerator. I have just read that if you buy the seeds pre ground they have been treated to prevent them from turning rancid and in fact can be harmful. Is there any truth to this?

    • NFModeratorKatie

      Hi Barbara – Thank you for your question. It really depends – some seeds might be treated, some might not. It would really depend on the supplier. I’m assuming not treated if you’re using organic. Regardless, the best way to consume flax is to buy it whole, then grind it as needed (using a flax mill, coffee grinder, food processor etc). That way you know it’s fresh. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Wishing you all the best!