Doctor's Note

For background on BPH (enlarged prostate), a condition that affects millions of men, see Some Prostates Are Larger than Others. If flax seeds alone can so dramatically affect prostate cancer cell growth, what about an entire diet based on plants? See Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both? and Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation BioassayProstate vs a Plant-Based Diet explores that same question for BPH. What else can flax seeds do? See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan IntakeFlax and Fecal Flora; and Just the Flax, Ma’am. What about garlic and onions? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers FoundPretty in Pee-nk; and #1 Anticancer Vegetable. We’ve seen the poultry’s-the-worst story before: EPIC Findings on LymphomaPoultry and Penis CancerPoultry Exposure and Neurological Disease; and Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?

For further context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Treating an Enlarged Prostate With DietVegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer Pollutants in Californian Breast TissueFlax Seeds for Prostate Cancer; and Treating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds.

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  • For background on BPH (enlarged prostate), a condition that affects millions of men, see yesterday’s video-of-the-day Some Prostates Are Larger than Others. If flax seeds alone can so dramatically affect prostate cancer cell growth, what about an entire diet based on plants? See Developing an Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay and Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?. In the next video-of-the-day Prostate Versus a Plant-Based Diet, that same question will be explored for BPH. What else can flax seeds do? See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake, Flax and Fecal Flora, and Just the Flax, Ma’am. What about garlic and onions? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers Found, Pretty in Pee-nk, and #1 Anticancer Vegetable. We’ve seen the poultry’s-the-worst story before: EPIC Findings on Lymphoma, Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?, Poultry and Penis Cancer, and Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Just the Flax Ma’am!  said Joe Friday!  TGIF (Thank God For Flax!)

  • Daniel Wagle

    I have an enlarged prostate.  I was obese for many years, and I suppose that has contributed to it.  I have lost a lot of weight and am well into the normal weight range. My stomach is far flatter than it was.  I have read that abdominal fat can contribute to BPH. I exercise everyday. But I still have the enlarged prostate.  I could not stand the side effects of the drug. So, instead, I eat two tablespoons of flaxseed each day with my oatmeal.  I also consume one ounce of pumpkin seeds each day for the zinc.  I also eat two or three Brazil Nuts daily for the Selenium.  I eat greens everyday.  I also take this natural prostate supplement that has Saw Palmetto and Pygeum along with some other unpronounceable herbal ingredients.  This supplement does seem to help the symptoms a bit.  Pure Saw Palmetto didn’t seem to help.  Saw Palmetto probably has to be mixed with other ingredients, such as Pygeum to be more effective. I think naturally reversing an enlarged prostate may be even harder than naturally lowering cholesterol levels.  I have lowered my cholesterol levels so far, that I no longer take the any statin drugs whatsoever. 

  • Rick

    Great video.  Aside from limiting the side effects of an enlarged prostate, are there any plant based foods that can actually shrink it?  What is feeding prostate growth?

    •  Studies at this time only point to decreasing growth and not actually reversal. Hopefully future studies will answer your question so stay tuned for the latest in science. For now we will have to limit the growth of our prostates and lower our risk of prostate cancer by eating well. We want to avoid if possible the one proven way to reduce prostate size… surgeries such as TURP’s! Best wishes.

      • Rickfla

        Thank you, Dr. Forrester!  I appreciate it.  Would female hormones shrink it over a short period of time, lets say a year?  Drastic I know, but I was just wondering.     

        • zzgorme

          I find eating a few Indian Gooseberries (Amla) a day has an enormous effect.

  • Traxmom

    This is soooo timely! My stepdad was just diagnosed with enlarged prostate at 82 years old. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Jo

      Ditto! A very timely study indeed. 

  • Shane

    Dr Greger – Do you have an opinion on CHIA seeds ?

    Like flaxseeds they are also high in omega 3 fatty acids but have advantages of less susceptible to rancidity and unlike flax don’t need to be ground to get the benefits.

    • Thea

       Shane:  I am not speaking for Dr. Greger.  However, I thought you might be interested to know that Dr. Greger does have a video on Chia seeds.  Take a look and see if that answers your question.

    • Toxins

      Check out this video on Chia vs flax here

  • Rckamen2

    You are a bright burning candle of light, Dr. Gregor! As a practicing nurse, I am so happy to hear an MD trying to PREVENT disease and offer non harming ways of relieving it! Bravo to you! thank you!

  • David_Brown

    The problem with poultry and red meat is not the food itself but the feed. As Michael Pollan says, “You are what what you eat eats.” Currently, livestock are fed diets rich in omega-6s. This translates into excessive omega-6s in their fat stores and cell membranes.

    The key to understanding the modern epidemics of cancer and heart disease lies in realizing that our modernized food supply is saturated with omega-6s. Either lowering overall fat intake or deliberately restricting omega-6 industrial seed oil intake can accomplish somewhat the same thing; a lower absolute amounts of omega-6s ingested and improvement in the omega-3/6 ratio.

  • George

    Dear Dr Greger

    Thanks for your usual dose of useful info. Are transcripts of your videos available?

    All the best –george

  • Skimelman

    Should we freshly grind the flax seed, use flax seed whole, or is the
    flax meal ok.  Thank you-Steve

    • Thea

       Skimelman:  The one think you do not want to do is eat the flax seed whole, unless you chew very very carefully.  The reason is that whole flax seed passes through you without being digested.  (Dr. Greger has a video about this if you want outside confirmation.)

      So, the big question is whether to grind it fresh yourself or buy it pre-ground.  What I have heard is that ground flax seed can start to go rancid quicker than non-ground.  So, my advice is: if you decide to buy it pre-ground, try to get as fresh as possible.  Then, as Dr. Greger says, be sure to store it in an airtight container.

      FYI: Just to be safe, and because it is just so darn easy, I grind my own flax seed.

      • Han

        I chew flax seeds myself. It’s pretty easy to feel if you missed one. It’s really not that hard. Just take your time for it.

        • Thea

          Han: Good for you for having the patience. It is not something I would enjoy doing. But if you have the interest in doing so, why not.

          • Han

            And I tried all kinds of other methods and it always got messy. ;-)

      • sanso

        I keep a coffee grinder handy.
        I have also heard that Flax seeds (and all other whole seeds) need to be kept refriegerated or you lose the good effects of oils within…apparently it goes rancid quickly.

  • Air Dance

    Should ground flaxseed be eaten cold or can it be included in hot items such as oatmeal?

    • You can apparently even boil it without losing the omega-3’s. And the anti-cancer lignans don’t appear to be affected by cooking either. Bon appétit!

      • sanso

        should the whole flax seeds be refriegerated? I was told that at room temperature the seeds lose their potency…the oils within the seeds go rancid. That I should grind it right before eating instead of buying ground flax seeds.

        • Thanks for your question.

          While I couldn’t personally find a reference for this topic. I did see a MayoClinic article written by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D in which she states:

          “Refrigerating whole seeds may extend their freshness. Whole seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder and then stored in an airtight container for several months.”

          Hope this answer helps.

  • MickeyMouse

    Dear Dr. Michael Greger.

    I thank you for this info. My husband just recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. But his urology DR. Said he definitely not recommend healthy diet, such as plant based whole foods to treat cancer. He said he dose not believe healthy diet. Why most DR.s are against healthy living for the cure? Seems like they only learned at meds school to give prescriptions and surgery? or are they just corroborating with pharmaceutical company?

    • Wegan

      He needs a new Dr.

    • Han

      His DR is afraid of losing a patient.

  • Barton van Buskirk

    Natural supplements and Skincare products from Xtend-Life Natural products, New Zealand

  • Mike

    Hello…just a question on the Flax Seeds. How do we eat flax seeds? I mean we need to eat with something or cook or raw. Sorry its just that I have never eaten flax seed so wanted to know.thank you. Mike

    • floridabuzz

      Hi. You have to grind flax seeds in order to digest them. I grind them in my Vitamix. It only takes a few seconds.

    • Toxins

      Hi Mike, its best to buy them pre ground. I find them best in oatmeal. You don’t need to cook flax before eating, its just like sesame seeds with a different taste. It is important to get them pre ground so that you can absorb whats within, otherwise you have to bite down every seed.

    • Thea

      Mike: Some people really do like to just carefully chew raw flaxseeds. (As your other replies indicate, the seeds must be ground or carefully chewed.) But most people grind up their flaxseeds and eat them one or a combination of these ways:
      1) sprinkled on oatmeal (works great! and is my preferred method),
      2) put into smoothies (also works great if you like smoothies),
      3) sprinkled on various foods eaten throughout the day.

      For #3: Suppose your goal is to eat 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day. So, you could put some on your morning oatmeal. Some on top of your lunch salad. And some in your dinner soup or stew. Etc. Flaxseed seems to work pretty well added last minute to all sorts of dishes.

      On the question of cooked vs raw: I haven’t seen any evidence that cooking necessarily hurts the ground flaxseed, but most people tend to put their flax in cold dishes or on top of hot dishes after the food has already been cooked. (I’m talking about ensuring daily flax intake – not using “flax eggs”, in which case the flax would definitely be cooked into the food, but probably not in big enough quantity to be medicinally useful.)

      Does that help?

    • sanso

      1) buy it whole
      2) keep it refriegerated
      3) use a coffee grinder just for grinding these grains
      4) grind a bit and add to your waffle mix in the AM, with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds. You won’t taste it and your waffle may be very slightly chewy…but delicious all the same.

  • Wade Patton

    Saw Palmetto has always worked for me so long as i take a pill every other day or so. I do quite notice it when i forget for too long, then I double dose for a couple of days to eliminate symptoms. I’ll be adding flax seed to the diet next, I’d rather eat seeds than pills. I’m late 40’s, occasional omnivore-becoming veganish.

  • Wally Evans

    Do you have any studies concerning nocturnal (frequent) urination for men?

  • timlewis

    Is there any research out there connecting diet to the condition “epididymitis”. A long course of antibiotics (8-12 weeks) usually sorts it out, but then returns and who wants to be on antibiotics for ages if there is a proven alternative!

  • wayne wojnarowski

    Doctor Greger can you consume flax seed ground up in a teaspoon and wash it down with water as well as ground up turmeric, or would it give you gastrointestinal problems/

  • Jim Hibbs

    I have recently read that flax oil can promote prostate cancer. Is this true? Why the oil but not the flax seeds themselves.

    • payoung

      Hi Jim, The studies that have found flax seeds to be protective in prostate cancer seem to show that it is the lignans contained in the whole flax seed which are phytoestrogens and therefore protective against hormone related cancers. Flax oil does not contain lignans and in addition flax oil contains alpa linolenic acid (ALA) a pure fat that depending on genetic factors, may be converted to arachadonic acid (AA) which may make prostate tumors more aggressive.