Lignan intake is associated with improved breast cancer survival in three recent population studies following a total of thousands of women after diagnosis.
Images thanks to calvinfleming
The class of phytonutrients known as lignans can be thought of as the Western equivalent of the isoflavone phytoestrogens found in soy foods popular in traditional Asian diets, as they share many purported anti-cancer mechanisms. Since soy food consumption is associated with both preventing breast cancer and prolonging breast cancer survival, one might expect the same to be found for lignans. There covered the population-based, in-vitro, and clinical evidence supporting prevention, but what about for women already diagnosed with the dreaded disease? Three studies following a total of thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were recently published. The first was from New York, reporting substantially reduced risks of overall mortality, and especially breast cancer mortality, associated with higher lignan intakes in postmenopausal women. Although higher lignan intakes may just be a marker of a diet high in plant foods, specific combinations of foods particularly high in lignans may be necessary to produce effects on mortality-related risk factors to subsequently impact survival." The next was out of Italy. At surgery, when the women were getting their primary breast tumors removed, they had some blood drawn and within 5 years those who had lower circulating levels of lignans were significantly more likely to die from their cancer coming back than those with more lignans in their bloodstream. They concluded, "Lignans might play an important role in reducing all-cause and cancer-specific mortality of the patients operated on for breast cancer." And same thing out of Germany, in the latest and largest study to date, Postmenopausal patients with breast cancer who have high serum enterolactone levels may have better survival." Here's the survival curve, the higher the better. Those who had the most lignans in their blood lived the longest and tended to live the longest disease free. So what should oncologists tell their patients? "Given this objective evidence that a biomarker of lignan intake improves breast cancer outcomes, should we declare success and recommend that our patients with breast cancer supplement their diet with flaxseed?" Not based on population evidence alone, the editorial concluded, robust experimental evidence is needed, which I'll cover in the next video…
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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What about the role of flaxseeds in preventing breast cancer in the first place? See the previous video Flaxseeds & Breast Cancer Prevention. In the next video Flaxseeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Clinical Evidence, I'll detail a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial in breast cancer patients where flaxseeds are actually put to the test.
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