Researchers set out to find out what it was about a flaxseed-supplemented lower fat diet that so effectively appeared to decrease prostate cancer growth.
Preliminary but impressive results showed decreasing cellular proliferation rates in men with precancerous changes in their prostates with a flaxseed supplemented lower fat diet. However, given the composite nature of the intervention—both a lower fat diet and flaxseeds, it is unknown whether the effects can be attributed to flaxseed supplementation, a fat-restricted diet, or both factors working together. To figure that out you'd have to do a study where you split men up into four groups, a control group, a flaxseed only group, a lower-fat only group, and then a flaxseed and lower fat group, and that's exactly what they did. 161 prostate cancer patients at least 21 days before their prostate removal surgery were randomly assigned to one of the those four arms. As the title describes, it was the flaxseeds but not dietary fat restriction alone that reduces prostate cancer proliferation rates in men pre-surgery. Here are the numbers. Whether they were eating their usual or lower fat diet, it was the men eating the flax that saw their tumor proliferation rate significantly drop, though if you look at what they actually ate, the low fat diet groups never got down to the target 20% calories from fat. They did drop their fat intake, but you'd hardly call a 25-28% calories from fat a low-fat diet. Still the low fat groups were the only one's that saw a significant drop in cholesterol and body weight and saw greater drops in biomarkers of inflammation, though that may have been secondary to the weight loss. Bottom-line: further studies are needed before we can definitively support flaxseed supplementation as a proven complementary therapy for prostate cancer. To date, however, the evidence suggests that flaxseed is a good, low-cost source of nutrition and is well-accepted and safe to use, so why not give it a try?
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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If the title of this video made no sense to you, make sure you see the first half of Flaxseed vs. Prostate Cancer.
This reminds me of the experiment described in Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both? in which researchers try to tease out the individual effects of a similar composite treatment—a plant-based diet and walking—on the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro.
The difference between what researchers say they're testing and what actually gets tested (like the "low" fat diet here) comes up over and over (for example in EPIC Study). The new Mediterranean diet study is another good example.
In the next video Flaxseed vs. Diabetes we'll see what hope our 7th leading killer has against the humble flax seed.
For more context, check out my blog post: Flaxseeds for Prostate Cancer
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