Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
4.73 (94.67%) 15 votes

Flax seed consumption may play a role in preventing and treating breast cancer by blocking the inflammatory effects of interleukin-1.

Discuss
Republish

I’ve previously discussed the role of dietary lignans in the reduction of breast cancer risk and improvement in breast cancer survival, based on studies like this that showed that women with breast cancer who ate the most lignans appeared to live longer, but lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom—seeds, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, berries—so how do we know lignans weren’t just a marker for the intake of unrefined plant foods? For example, those that eat lots of plants, vegetarians, have about 8 times the lignan intake of omnivores, and the one that ate the most plants, the vegan, was off the charts.

Well in a petri dish, lignans were shown to not only have direct anticancer growth activity against human breast cancer cells, but also prevent their migration, so it was finally put to the test. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of flaxseeds, the world’s most concentrated source of lignans, in breast cancer patients found that flax appears to have the potential to reduce human breast tumor growth in just a matter of weeks. So I started recommending ground flax seeds to breast cancer patients, but what about preventing breast cancer in the first place?

Similarly, high lignan intake was associated with reduced breast cancer risk, but maybe that’s just saying high plant food intake help in general. So they gave women at high risk for breast cancer a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day for a year, and they showed, on average, a drop in precancerous changes. But what about flax seeds and breast cancer itself? Outside of an experimental setting there just weren’t a lot of women eating flax seeds regularly to study, until now. Matching 3,000 women with breast cancer to 3,000 women without, they found consumption of flaxseed alone, and of flax bread, was associated with a 20–30% reduction in breast cancer risk.

As flaxseeds are packed with lignans, only a small daily serving of flaxseed is required to attain the level of lignan intake associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk. As it appears that most women do not consume flaxseed and that small amounts may be associated with reduced breast cancer risk, we might want to consider interventions to increase the prevalence of flaxseed consumption.

The latest review summarized the association between flax and decreased risk of breast cancer in the first place, better mental health, and lower mortality among breast cancer patients. The only other study of flax and brain health I’m aware of was an exploration of 100 commonly used drugs and supplements on cognition in older adults, that found flax to be one of the few things that appeared to help.

In terms of why flaxseeds may play a role in preventing and treating breast cancer, there’s an inflammatory molecule called interleukin-1, which may help tumors feed, grow, and invade, so our body produces an interkeukin-1 receptor antagonist; it binds to the IL-1 receptor and blocks the action of IL-1. And the activity of this protective inhibitor can be boosted with the drug tamoxifen or by eating flax seeds. In premenopausal women, the pro-inflammatory profile of interleukin-1 could be counteracted by a dietary addition of a few spoonfuls of ground flax. One month of flax was able to increase the anti-inflammatory inhibitor levels by over 50%, better than even the drug.

Yes, having one’s ovaries removed may reduce breast cancer risk as much as 60%, but at the cost of severe side-effects. The drug tamoxifen may reduce the incidence of breast cancer by more than 40% but may induce other severe side effects such as uterine cancer and blood clots. That’s why less toxic, even safe, breast cancer preventive strategies such as diet modifications need to be developed, and these lignin phytoestrogens in flaxseeds may be one successful route because of very recent epidemiological data.

Now lignans are not a magic bullet to prevent breast cancer—you can’t just sprinkle some flax on your bacon cheeseburger—but as a part of a healthy diet and life-style they might help to reduce breast cancer risk in the general population.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Justin Snow via Flickr.

I’ve previously discussed the role of dietary lignans in the reduction of breast cancer risk and improvement in breast cancer survival, based on studies like this that showed that women with breast cancer who ate the most lignans appeared to live longer, but lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom—seeds, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, berries—so how do we know lignans weren’t just a marker for the intake of unrefined plant foods? For example, those that eat lots of plants, vegetarians, have about 8 times the lignan intake of omnivores, and the one that ate the most plants, the vegan, was off the charts.

Well in a petri dish, lignans were shown to not only have direct anticancer growth activity against human breast cancer cells, but also prevent their migration, so it was finally put to the test. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of flaxseeds, the world’s most concentrated source of lignans, in breast cancer patients found that flax appears to have the potential to reduce human breast tumor growth in just a matter of weeks. So I started recommending ground flax seeds to breast cancer patients, but what about preventing breast cancer in the first place?

Similarly, high lignan intake was associated with reduced breast cancer risk, but maybe that’s just saying high plant food intake help in general. So they gave women at high risk for breast cancer a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day for a year, and they showed, on average, a drop in precancerous changes. But what about flax seeds and breast cancer itself? Outside of an experimental setting there just weren’t a lot of women eating flax seeds regularly to study, until now. Matching 3,000 women with breast cancer to 3,000 women without, they found consumption of flaxseed alone, and of flax bread, was associated with a 20–30% reduction in breast cancer risk.

As flaxseeds are packed with lignans, only a small daily serving of flaxseed is required to attain the level of lignan intake associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk. As it appears that most women do not consume flaxseed and that small amounts may be associated with reduced breast cancer risk, we might want to consider interventions to increase the prevalence of flaxseed consumption.

The latest review summarized the association between flax and decreased risk of breast cancer in the first place, better mental health, and lower mortality among breast cancer patients. The only other study of flax and brain health I’m aware of was an exploration of 100 commonly used drugs and supplements on cognition in older adults, that found flax to be one of the few things that appeared to help.

In terms of why flaxseeds may play a role in preventing and treating breast cancer, there’s an inflammatory molecule called interleukin-1, which may help tumors feed, grow, and invade, so our body produces an interkeukin-1 receptor antagonist; it binds to the IL-1 receptor and blocks the action of IL-1. And the activity of this protective inhibitor can be boosted with the drug tamoxifen or by eating flax seeds. In premenopausal women, the pro-inflammatory profile of interleukin-1 could be counteracted by a dietary addition of a few spoonfuls of ground flax. One month of flax was able to increase the anti-inflammatory inhibitor levels by over 50%, better than even the drug.

Yes, having one’s ovaries removed may reduce breast cancer risk as much as 60%, but at the cost of severe side-effects. The drug tamoxifen may reduce the incidence of breast cancer by more than 40% but may induce other severe side effects such as uterine cancer and blood clots. That’s why less toxic, even safe, breast cancer preventive strategies such as diet modifications need to be developed, and these lignin phytoestrogens in flaxseeds may be one successful route because of very recent epidemiological data.

Now lignans are not a magic bullet to prevent breast cancer—you can’t just sprinkle some flax on your bacon cheeseburger—but as a part of a healthy diet and life-style they might help to reduce breast cancer risk in the general population.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Justin Snow via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

The first half of the video is basically just a review of all the flax and breast cancer work I’ve already cover:

Flaxseeds may also help fight hormone-mediated cancers in men. See Flaxseed vs. Prostate Cancer and Was It the Flaxseed, Fat Restriction, or Both?

What else can these puppies do? See:

I have another 100+ videos on breast cancer if you want to become an expert and help take care of yourself and/or the women in your life. Here’s a few recent ones to get you started:

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

123 responses to “Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. I was adding flax seed to my smoothies and had a six week long period – until I suspected flax was the culprit and stopped consuming it. Never had that situation since…




    0
    1. To fully suspect one factor for something like that seems not-called for, especially due to the fact that it has estrogen excretion properties. I would attempt it again, but with maybe less flax ground, simply due to the fact that it has so many benefits (eicosaniod pathway) for a mass majority of the population. I hope it does not have negative effects again, but would totally understand if you would be hesitant to reuse flax.




      0
      1. We recently had a discussion on reheating potatoes here, and there’s evidence that repeated cycles of heating and cooling increase the amount of starch resistant to in vitro digestion. Starch retrogradation, where the amylose strands align, exclude water molecules, form hydrogen bonds, and become resistant to our digestive enzymes, has been described as like a crystalization process. Cycles of starch heating and cooling perhaps are akin to annealing in metallurgy, where a crystalline structure with dislocations and other imperfections is heated and slowly cooled, permitting atoms to redistribute themselves towards a low energy equilibrium state. One can imagine the amylose strands finding tighter (and more resistant) alignments during a thermal cycle. And lo, the term “annealing” has been applied to starch engineering as well. One for the stack.




        0
      1. You can buy it in stores, I believe, but I put flax seeds in a blender with water and a tiny amount each of vanilla extract and agave. It tasted ok, I’d drink some every day if it was giving me the flax benefit. I did strain out most of the pulp but some was left in, which eventually settled.




        0
        1. Not sure if ALL the benefits of flax are received via flax milk since a good deal of the fiber is filtered out. Reminds me of commercial almond milk which lacks the protein of soy milk.




          0
        2. Why filter it? Here’s my anticamcer morning pick me up – 2 cups rejuvalac [made with lactofermented quinoa], 1 inch fresh tumeric, 1 inch of fresh ginger root, couple of black pepper corns, juice from 1 lemon, 2-3tablespoons ground flax seeds, 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds, a small jalapeño, just put it all in the vitamix and slam it down. Maybe add a few cranberries, juniper berries, allspice, cloves, cinnamon etc depending on how I feel. Usually fresh grind the flax and other seeds in a coffee grinder first.




          0
          1. Laila: people who eat SAD/poorly have small poops. You need big hospitals to deal with all those people who get sick because of their fiber-poor, animal and junk-rich diets. But if people ate whole plant food diets, they would have lots of fiber and nice, big and frequent poops. They would be very healthy, and as a society, we could have small hospitals because the need for hospitals would be a lot smaller. ;-)




            0
    1. Making homemade flax milk is a great idea to avoid buying flax milk with added sugar or other processed ingredients. Although, flaxmilk does not have the fiber content that the ground flax does. See the video Dr. Burkitt’s F-Word Diet to learn more about why fiber is an important component of the diet.




      0
  2. Helpful Hint: I use ground flaxseeds instead of parmesan cheese. A vegan pasta dish with ground flaxseeds and Maldon sea salt tastes great!




    0
    1. Hi Plantstrongdoc, Since we do very low salt, and are just learning to cook, do you think ground flax seeds and nutritional yeast would be good on Pasta, say, eggplant, tomato, onions, garlic, oregano, etc. on pasta)?




      0
      1. Absolutely! I like the taste of nutritional yeast. Instead of salt try to use lemon juice (fresh) – on the food, after cooking.




        0
      1. The chlorination of the water supply appears to be the main contributing factor for why vegans cannot get sufficient b12 without shots or pills. The addition to the water supply is beneficial for prevention of water born parasites/ect.., but this is an issue that can lead one to believe that humans are “meant to eat meat”, where the evidence is reflected by the diet related disease states that arise from consumption. I take the tablet once daily for all the benefit of avoidance of meat and more intake of edible plants.

        B12 is produced firstly in the stomach and then formed in its’ entirety as it passes through the intestines (intrinsic factor and other transporters/ ect.. are involved for simplicities sake). The animal has it within its’ tissues that you consume but at the expense of eating meat.




        0
        1. If you didn’t live in an 21st century artificial environment you’d be exposed to B-12 constantly. Those Roman gladiators didn’t bath dairy, or even weekly, I bet. They didn’t wash their hands after using the community bathroom so B-12 was even on their dirty hands. Indeed, today we exist in a different environment, a different world. Gladiators eating plant food with “dirty” hands would get a healthy dose of B-12 every meal. LOL, like you, I prefer a pill.




          0
        1. ReluctantVegan, I have an assistant who deletes for me. I don’t even have to think about it. I only type that stuff so they have a purpose.




          0
          1. Oh dear me, Larry G Maloney, I just now clicked on your name to read your other stuff. I didn’t realize there had been issues with censorship previously. No disrespect to you intended. I tried to delete my “battle” comment as I said I would, but it wouldn’t go away. The name just turned to “Guest”, and now it won’t delete. Do you know how to fix that?




            0
            1. ReluctantVegan: I’m not sure why you weren’t able to delete your own comment. (It would be a Disqus bug.) But it looks like I was able to do the deleting as a moderator on the site.

              I also wanted to say: Thank you for self-monitoring. That’s great.




              0
              1. ReluctantVegan: One more note. After supposedly deleting the comments, I went to double-check and the comments were still there. So, I’m not sure whats going on.




                0
      2. B-12 is in germs…on dirt, dirty plants, all over in nature. It’s not in meat! It’s the germs on the meat that have B-12. Roman gladiators didn’t use Clorox to clean the kitchen, their tidy whity’s weren’t, and their environment wasn’t 100% artificial. They actually touched dirt! Today we take B-12 capsules because we are so far removed from our natural environment we don’t even come in contact with it. EVERYTHING around you is fake. You are isolated from nature (reality). Everything you accept as normal is created by man.

        Needing B-12 supplements isn’t a knock on veganism; mankind has never (to my knowledge) gotten B-12 from eating plants (except dirty plants). It’s always been exposure to the germs in nature. Even today’s gladiators, foot ballplayers, battle on artificial grass, wear plastic helmets, and plastic armor. Dirt is something buried beneath the concrete. Were protected from reality in a sterile cocoon. Isn’t it ironic air inside our homes is ten times more contaminated than the real stuff outside?

        If a Roman gladiator invented the first B-12 capsule it would be filled with dirt.




        0
          1. Gar Zuzik, you don’t speak for those professors, I suspect. But why would they waste their time refuting anything I say? After al, I am but a layman…sharing what medical doctors say. For example, I was being polite about the source of B-12, it’s abundant on animal poo…which gets on plants.

            What would be more interesting is for you to show this video to those professors you contact daily and see if they disagree with Dr. McDougall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPmxREetE0Y
            Also, if you type into a search engine “Dr. McDougall, B-12” several other articles will show similar knowledge.
            I suppose hidden away somewhere, NF has a comment or two about B-12. Please share this with those professors and get back with us on their views after hearing what dr. McDougall has to say on B-12. Or, is it possible you are saying the professors prefer I use the word “bacteria” instead of “germ”? If so I stand corrected. The germane point is we don’t need to (and should not) eat meat to get B-12. I don’t want anyone distracted by a straw issue (germ vs bacteria). A rose by any other name still smells as sweet as a rose.




            0
    1. Russ: Thanks so much for this link! I’ve heard this information before, but did not have a reference for a study to back it up. I’ve been looking for just such a reference for a long time. This is great info. Thanks!




      0
    1. Kat, good point. People on other web sites promoting ground flaxseed get anal about which method and brand of grinder produces the finest ground flax. How fine it’s ground isn’t even an issue as far as digestion is concerned. A few seconds of grinding breaks up the tough outer shell. Stomach acid will take it from there. My fifteen dollar Kitchen Aid, one-cup blender, does the job. Grind a little longer…fifteen whole seconds and it’s fine enough for baking. Flax oil is destroyed by heating. But baking ground flaxseed doesn’t seen to be a problem.

      I buy 25 pound bags of flaxseed and store in the freezer so bugs don’t infest. Ground flaxseed keeps my kitty’s fur soft and shiny and her healthy.




      0
  3. This is probably silly sounding but men can get breast cancer too. Everybody needs their flax seeds. We grind 2 tbs for our bread machine recipe. works a treat. I’ve got to try some muffin recipes.. BTW,if you are new to them, I’d recommend that you start with a tsp and work your way up to 2 tbs per day. They gave me quite some trouble at first but backing off and adding them in gradually was the trick.




    0
    1. (not to be picky but we do not “need” flax) {said friendly}, but it is very beneficial for numerous vitamins,minerals, micro-nutrients and also for the eicosanoid pathway, especially for the Americanized “SAD” diet that consumes practically no fiber in comparison to our past, and high 0mega-6 content (and Arachnoid Acid by animal intake).

      As one eats healthier, causing less inflammation, the benefit of flax will be lessened possibly.




      0
      1. Gar, according to one (or more) of Dr. Gerber’s videos, flaxseed can not only prevent cancer but it can cure some cancer. In my opinion, someone with cancer or someone who wants to avoid cancer can benefit from flaxseed.

        Ya know, it’s one thing to look through a microscope and see one tiny thing and declare this or that fact, but it takes some work to put the whole body of knowledge in perspective and made intelligent decisions about what can help us be healthy and what is harmful. If you cross a busy intersection you can look up and down the street and avoid the dangerous traffic. Or you can look through binoculars and see the other side of the street up close and personal, and not see the eighteen wheeler rolling over you.




        0
      1. Diarrhea. Combined with the high fiber i was already getting the flax tipped the balance and things came undone. Start slowly, add in multiple small hits rather than one big “plug” … well worth the effort though. oh, grind thoroughly helps too I think. Best wishes




        0
  4. Relation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I and IGF-binding protein 3 concentrations with intakes of fruit, vegetables,
    and antioxidants is a rather confusing study inregards to cancer prevention and seems to paint a picture of cancer rate increase due to plant food ingestion.




    0
      1. Relation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I and IGF-binding protein 3 concentrations with intakes of fruit, vegetables,
        and antioxidants 1,2,3




        0
        1. I was rather confused due to the fact that numerous other studies all seem to conclude a major benefit and causation of more plant food consumed and lower igf-1/2 and more binding of the IGf’s.




          0
          1. “Conclusion: Women with higher intakes of citrus fruit or dietary vitamin C tend to have higher plasma concentrations of IGF-I and lower
            plasma concentrations of IGFBP-3”

            By stating plasma, is that implying a benefit by not being intracellular? That doesn’t seem to be right.




            0
          2. The methodology of the study is not that strong in my opinion. I think the direct before and after interventional feeding studies are far more compelling. A large number of studies with a similar design as the study you shared would be more interesting and more compelling.




            0
            1. What would you state is unfavorable in the methodology section? (i am a sponge for stuff like this sorry).
              The doctor should take notice of this study due to the fact that he offered a challenge (and reward??) to proving negative impact of fruits/vegetables on health.




              0
              1. I have not read every detail of the study, but here are my impressions from moderate skimming (I am currently studying organic chemistry and do not have a lot of time to read the whole thing). The fact that it was merely a FFQ and it looked at strictly plant components without considerations for other components of the diet is a drawback. In addition, citrus fruits could indicate orange juice, not necessarily whole oranges. Also, vegetables showed no association with IGF-1. This again brings me back to questioning what the other dietary components are, we just can’t know from this. Interventional studies are considered higher quality for several reasons as noted above. Like I said, if there was a larger quantity of studies with the same methodology showing the same results than that would be more meaningful.




                0
                1. From their own paragraph detailing the weaknesses of their study:

                  “In addition, intake of vitamin C from supplements accounts for a major proportion of the variance in total vitamin C intake (90%).”




                  0
              2. 1542 subjects used,

                Diet was assessed with a validated self-administrated 161-item semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ; 97GP copyrighted at Harvard University, Boston, MA) (40),
                which included 28 vegetable and 16 fruit items.

                For each food item, a standard portion size was specified and the participants
                were asked how often,on average (ranging from“never” to “6 or more” times/d), they had consumed this item during the year preceding blood collection.

                “the FFQ has been shown to be valid and reliable”
                An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with reagent from Diagnostic Systems Laboratory (Webster, TX) was used to measureIGF-I and IGFBP-3




                0
                1. Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 Alleviates High-Fat Diet–Induced Myocardial Contractile Dysfunction
                  states how IGF-1 is upregulated during periods of highfat/unfavorable dieting.




                  0
                  1. Heart Smart Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1

                    Reduced IGF-1 levels are associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and diabetes mellitus, whereas elevated IGF-1 has been associated with longevity in humans.3




                    0
                  1. thank you for that insight. It is rather confusing when reading over studies sometimes, even when someone has done it for a long amount of time.

                    In terms of specific constituents it appears that all the research right now is pointing to the benefits of veganism (downregulation I believe off the top of my head) and mTor. The Leucine, methionine and arachadonic acid connections to lessened health/predisposition to cancer/disease is still in its’ researched infancy, if you feel the same.




                    0
                    1. The game the meat and dairy industries plays is “were waiting on the research”. Anyone trying to discredit a plant based diet resorts to overtures about needing more research before reaching a conclusion. Meanwhile the sale of met and diary and it’s glutinous consumption continues to create the worst health crisis in our Nation’s history..
                      Look at the matter from a biology perspective. Humans have especially long intestines evolved so slow digesting fibrous plants can be processed and nutrients extracted over time. Our long intestines cause meat to stay inside way too long and the harmful cholesterol from eating meat and dairy gets absorbed. We have color vision so can cognize a ripe apple or banana. Our teeth are not suitable for the tasks of being a carnivore.
                      True carnivores have sharp piercing teeth and a powerful jaw. Generally they can out run their prey. Their intestines are relatively short allowing poisonous cholesterol to pass in little time. They lack our color vision because they don’t need to know whether an apple or banana is ripe.
                      Long before mankind had the accumulated knowledge and sophisticated tools to examine the elements of nutrition on a molecular level, observing men of science recognized the harm of meat and dairy and the health and healing form plant consumption. Relying on microscopic science to make a judgment call is a poor practice because whatever you decide it’s at risk for being trumped by yet another study. Not knowing 100% the chemistry does not invalidate the observations of several hundred years. As our ability to delve deep into the mysteries of molecular science we continue to discover why apples are good for us. Finding a negative aspect of any plant food it appears is offset by some other discovery that puts the original study in balance and perspective. Society suffers while yet another study is studied.




                      0
                    2. I do agree with you Larry G about the anatomical indicators of our more/ possibly exclusive plant-based past, but I also believe that we have the ability as humans to connection non-connectible things.
                      (The famous ice-cream consumption during summer assumed causation to increased rates of shark attacks, where we all know that more people are swimming during summer, thus more people in water to be attacked). A quick overview of the statistics would lead researchers down a completely wrong causative path.

                      Simply stated, we assume and connect things and that is why more and larger/better studies are always needed to find a conclusion. Sadly, until the facts are several times more indicative of the negatives of less plants and more meat many people will not be influenced by the “largest studies ever” because these foods (along with processed) are convenient and instantly satisfactory.

                      The mantis Shrimp has many more visual spectrum frequencies that it utilizes for hunting prey. Under the previous response by Larry it would be concluded that those shrimp are even more “vegan-designed” than us.

                      I know how I would respond to my statement, and that would be,
                      “it is the combination of plant-based anatomical indicators that shows we are plant-based and better suited for it” but if you added up a bunch of assumption my point still stands.

                      That being said, I agree with you because the blood brain barrier breaching effect of hamain (sorry for spelling mistake) upon meat consumption appears at this time to be very detrimental for hours later.
                      (the gut bacteria connection to meat vs. plant consumption is still in its’ infancy in my oppinion).

                      The end message is that we are always discovering but obviously the research is not convincing enough due to the numerous of other 23yo’s that eat terribly, unlike myself.

                      The anatomical findings are memorable and intriguing, but people will always be skeptical in my opinion due to the fall to “we will adapt” response. The better path I feel is to remind people of the short-term benefits of plant-based, and especially in a professional manner the sexual benefits.




                      0
                    3. “More and larger studies” is the excuse for keeping the public ignorant about the valid studies already helping those who access them. Additional studies is the manipulative tool use by America’s most prolific science, “Marketing” to keep Americans feeing at profitable meat and dairy troughs. Folks don’t prefer meat and dairy because enough studies haven’t been completed and they still question the science behind a plant based diet. Not at all, they eat meat and dairy because it’s what’s constantly marketed to them. You see, gar, it’s not abut science, it’s about marketing. Marketers claim we need more studies. Just like marketers almost weekly release a new study showing chocolate is healthy for us (sponsored by Mars, Inc., of course) How foolish it is to argue in academia about plant food vs animal food when science proved long ago the harm of animal food and he protection provided by a plant based diet. Marketing triumphs because money is behind it.

                      How are you claiming the manta shrimp evolved to be a meat (or is it plant) eater? Even without knowing anything about this shrimp I’d conclude evolution is by definition on an on-going process. Therefore there are exceptions to the rule. And, an exception does not invalidate the rule.

                      The fact that 23 year olds (in the USA) might not eat healthy is not evidence the science is not in. If that were the only issue then 23 year olds would not drink or do drugs or have unprotected sex or drive without fastening their seat belts. Human’s don’t learn from other’s mistakes, if so, we’d all be perfect by now.

                      Being “skeptical’ about a plant based diet is more a function of marketing than lacking scientific proof. Bombard television nightly and dairy with positive information about a plant based diet…comparable to the message presently promoted about meat and dairy consumption and Americans will understand why they are sickly.




                      0
              3. Gar, I haven’t read the challenge but is he asking for ANY negativity, for example, arsenic in apple seeds? Or is his challenge to find an edible plant which has more negative aspects than benefits? Most often The totality of the plant deals with the one negative component or effect, therefore, overall, it’s a “good” food. You usually can’t win betting against someone at their own game. (It’s in the rules.)




                0
                1. I understand Larry about the “ANY”, although I think it is worth stating that there are conflicting studies about the negative impacts of IGF-1.
                  Toxins is much more advanced in terms of understanding the biased nature/ completeness of studies though.




                  0
                  1. Gar, YOU brought up the study. YOU brought up the challenge. I’m simply asking YOU for clarification. Your admission Toxins understands “studies” more than you does not make him knowledgeable about THIS study. In fact he already stated he didn’t read every detail about this study.




                    0
  5. ReluctantVegan, I don’t think anyone can delete another’s posts unless the “Other” is an alias and someone is posting under more than one name. If so that person might accidentally post as one alias thinking they are logged in on the other account. If so, that person unwittingly deleted their own alies post.

    To actually delete a post, if desired, the only “correction” I know is to “edit” the unwanted post by actually writing a different message and depleting the original part.

    As far as being logged in as a “guest”, I’d suggest closing out the web site and then open it again and log in your usual way as “reluctant vegan”. If that doesn’t work, the NF staff can guid you through any problems.

    My past posting transgressions are but a learning curve. If I’ve corrupted you in any way I do apologize.




    0
  6. Considering that flaxseed has a similar protective effect as tamoxifen on breast cancer, what is known about a similar deleterious effect of flaxseed on endometrial cancer as is the case with tamoxifen?




    0
  7. Hope someone can answer a question that’s been on my mind about flax for a while: is it ok to bake with it? Reason I ask is because I know using flax oil to cook with is a huge no no as it’s a very delicate oil and must be kept in the fridge and away from light. So this made me wonder; is it ok to heat the actual flax seeds (ie, when you cook with them)? Thanks in advance.




    0
    1. Tara: While I am aware of plenty of sources that talk about how quickly flax oil can go rancid/bad, including with applied heat, I’m not aware of any sources saying that normal cooking/baking with ground flaxseed does anything to hurt the oils in the flax. I think the fiber that you retain protects the fat, even from some heat. I wouldn’t go to the bank with such an assertion, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I know that lots of very health and food safety conscious people make “flax eggs” to bake with. And I know that somehwere on this site, even Dr. Greger talks positively about flax eggs. I don’t think he would do that if there was a problem with it.

      While not a definitive answer, I hope it helps.




      0
        1. Grinding flaxseeds is important for allowing your body to absorb the omega-3 fats, called alpha-linolenic acid, it contains. Omega-3 fatty acids can greatly benefit your heart health. However, these polyunsaturated fats are more sensitive to oxygen, light and heat, making them more prone to rancidity. Fortunately, the omega-3 in ground flaxseeds have been shown to remain unaffected when exposed to temperatures of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as part of a muffin mix, for two hours. http://www.livestrong.com/article/394798-can-we-cook-ground-flaxseed/

          Found several web sites that say this same information but none of them sited who researched this.




          0
  8. If lignans are so protective and vegetarians and vegans consume so much more of them, why are there higher rates of breast cancer mortality within those populations – as Dr. Gregor himself acknowledges in his video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7KeRwdIH04 at minute 8? He brushes it off by saying, essentially, “Oh vegetarian woman tend to have less children – that explains it.” But I’m concerned that it does not. I think of Linda McCartney for example who was vegetarian for decades AND had four children yet died of breast cancer at age 56.




    0
  9. Dear Dr Greger, I really need your advice on this one. I know and have listened to your wonderful videos on Flax seeds. Today I received an e-mail fro an other web site, named Health Edge, warning men about not to consume Flax Seeds, due to an increase in Estrogen levels possibly affecting a mans virility. Can you comment please on this subject, as I am now confused on the subject.




    0
  10. I am looking for information on PTEN mutations and how diet might improve (or reduce) the risk factors for developing the cancers associated with the mutation. Breast, uterine, thyroid and Kidney. I am looking up all those cancers, but I would be interested in seeing information on diet and PTEN specifically in the future. Thanks for all you are doing! I am about 1-month in to my WFPB diet and I haven’t felt this good in years.




    0
  11. I was wondering about the cyanide (? not sure about the translation here) content of flax seeds? I live in Sweden and here they recommend not to eat more than a tablespoon of flax seeds and never to eat ground flax seeds. I have search for info about this on the site and I have also read Dr Gregers book but I cant find any info about if he considers this a problem?




    0
    1. The 2016 study by K. Abraham conclude that flaxseeds are safe to consume, here is the conclusion and a link to the paper

      “”and in order to meet worst-case conditions, it has to be eaten on an empty stomach directly after grinding by a machine (chewing of the hard seeds is not effective enough and very time-consuming), without consumption of other foods. In Sweden, the highest daily dose was reported to be 80 g ground linseed, given as “fibre shock” in a private health spa (Rosling 1993). Usually, high doses are up to 15 g three times a day in case of traditional herbal medication to treat or prevent constipation (EMA 2006), and this dose is safe with respect to possible acute toxicity of cyanide. Only concentrations of bound cyanide much higher than those of our study linseed (220 mg/kg) would change this assessment.””

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/




      0
    1. Anthony Llabres: I don’t know much about Dr. Peat. I clicked on your link. I didn’t read the whole article, but I skimmed a bit of it. The gist seemed to be that vegetable oils are bad things. Dr. Greger does not recommend *any* oils. So, if you stayed away from all oils, it seems you would be doing great from both doctor’s perspectives? Unless Dr. Peat is a proponent of oils high in saturated fat, like coconut and palm oils. I think the evidence against all oils and especially oils high saturated fat is very clear. So, if that’s the sticking point, I would suggest checking out this information for starters: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/saturated-fat/




      0
      1. Thanks for the reply. Dr Peat ciites many studies supporting Saturated fat like coconut oil and some MUFA. He doesn’t support nuts and seeds though.
        I prefer low fat and no soy personally, but I do need fat and I don’t want.it being an issue in insulin resistance. So I’m trying to make a sound decision. They both show studies that support their point. It’s a jungle of studies and opiniins.




        0
        1. Anthony Llabres: I sympathize with your dilemma. Someone with more energy than I could likely dissect Dr. Peat’s work for you. I hope you find some way to help yourself make a decision.
          .
          I have three more thoughts for you though: Did you know that humans have only two essential fats? An essential fat is one that you need to get from your diet. The two essential fats are omega 3 and omega 6. Your body can make all other types of fat as needed, including saturated fat. Now all, natural fats have some combination of poly, mono and saturated fat. But to think that we need or even benefit from focusing on sources of fat high in saturated fat and low on the type of fat that we absolutely have to have in our diet makes no sense to me.
          .
          Second, you wrote, “…but I do need fat…” Agreed. As explained above, you need to consume small amounts of omega 3 and 6. If I remember correctly, the amount of omega 3 a person needs in a day is equivalent to about 1/4 teaspoon. Recommendations for omega 6 range from 1 to 4 times the omega 3 recommendation–ie, very little. So, here’s the deal: While you need fat in your diet, you definitely do not need to get that fat from extracted (ie: highly processed) oils. Subjecting yourself to the dangers of oils are unnecessary, because whole plant foods have enough fat in them to meet your fat needs. (Consider: corn oil comes from corn. Olive oil comes from olives, etc. Did you know that even veggies like broccoli have fat in it? If you followed Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen recommendations for eating, one person calculated that you might get about 20-25% fat in your diet. And that’s with no oils.
          .
          The final thought is to address your concern about insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the main issue with Type 2 Diabetes. Dr. Greger explains what causes T2 diabetes in the following video – and the answer is *too much* fat, especially saturated fat: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-causes-diabetes/. Eating a diet like Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen or Dr. Barnard’s recommended diet for preventing or reversing diabetes is a great way to avoid T2 diabetes.
          .
          Dr. Barnard has published, clinical trials that showed how people eating a low fat whole plant food diet is 3 times more successful at beating T2 diabetes than people on the standard ADA diet. You can learn more about those experiments here if you are interested: https://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-Diabetes/dp/1594868107/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466736548&sr=8-1&keywords=prevent+and+reverse+diabetes. If you want a free program for following Dr. Barnard’s diet (which is generally consistent with Dr. Greger’s recommendations), you can do the on-line 21 day Kickstart program, which includes meal plans and recipes, etc. Let me know if you would like a link to the Kickstart program.




          0
    1. C: I didn’t read the whole thing, but I took a quick glance at it. The first thing I noticed is that it seemed to be a theory based on two anecdotes, not actual scientific studies like you see here.
      .
      The second was that it seemed (again, I only skimmed it so maybe I got it wrong) to be based on the whole tired argument that phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) contribute to breast cancer. I can’t remember if Dr. Greger addressed that particular question specifically in regards to flax, but he definitely addresses that concern in regards to soy. And what humans learned when we studied soy was that phytoestrogens are protective against breast cancer. And can even help prevent recurrence. http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=phytoestrogens&fwp_content_type=video The link is a search on this site for ‘phytoestrogens’. Notice how much flax seed and fighting breast cancer also comes up in the search.
      .
      Finally, I saw the argument about flax not being a good source of omega 3s. Well, if your concern is about cancer, you can get omega 3s from other sources and not rely on flax for it. Flax has all those lignans and what we have seen here on NutritionFacts, is an awesome way to lower cancer risk among other health benefits. So, why even bring this up?
      .
      But if eating flax is part of someone’s plan for getting omega 3s, the article is still terribly misleading. At least one study shows that the bodies of plant based eaters are far more efficient at converting the fat in flax to the type of omega 3s that our bodies need. (I can get you that reference if you want it.) Bottom line is that when eating a healthy whole plant food diet that includes lots of leafy greens and flax, humans get all of the DHA that we need. Here’s one study to back up this statement (Thank you moderator Stephanie for finding this for us!):
      .
      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. November 2010, Vol 92, Number 5, Pages 1040-1051. The vegans in the study actually had highest levels of DHA (which most sources say it’s harder for the body to convert ALA into DHA, than it is to convert ALA into EPA) compared to the fish eaters, non-fish-eating meat-eaters, and vegetarians. This was despite the fact that they consumed less omega 3s. (Stephanie also found an article that summarizes the study: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Omega-3-ALA-intakes-enough-for-EPA-DPA-levels-for-non-fish-eaters?utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=OnSite&utm_campaign=copyright
      .
      At that point, I gave up. It’s a shame people want to get their health information from biased non-scientific articles than from sources like NutritionFacts which does our best to just stick to the science. If anything is a fairy tale, it’s that article you linked to.
      .
      Hope that helps.




      1
  12. I am newly diagnosed with breast cancer and am trying the Budwig Protocol. I spoke with a survivor who used 12 tablespoons of flax oil per day (blended with cottage cheese, as per the protocol), so I decided to try that myself, but I used only 8 tablespoons of flax oil per day, and unfortunately it is making me gain weight. I’ve lost 55 pounds over the last six months and have about 100 pounds left to go, but the Budwig made me put back on about 4 pounds in just 5 days. So, I’m wondering how low I can go on the flax oil and still have it be effective for combatting the breast cancer. I believe I saw somewhere on this site that 1 tablespoon of flax oil per day is enough. Does anybody know? Or can someone direct me to where on the site flax oil for breast cancer is discussed? Thank you.




    0
    1. Teri: I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I applaud you for taking your health into your own hands and trying to find a reasonable solution. I know nothing about the Budwig Protocol.
      .
      That said, any solution recommending the consumption of oil, let alone 12 tablespoons! is just crazy. Pure fat (any extracted oil) is the most calorie dense substance you could eat. It is no surprise that you are gaining weight. See http://nutritionfacts.org/video/nutrient-dense-approach-to-weight-management/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-more-to-weigh-less/ (I don’t have a reference, but I remember reading somewhere that being overweight is a risk factor for breast cancer in and of itself. So, you definitely want to get back on the route you were before when you were losing weight.) If you follow the science as explained on NutritionFacts, you would see that while 1 tablespoon of ground flax **seed** is a good idea, flax oil is not. There are no pages here discussing the benefits of flax *oil*.
      .
      Then, to add insult to injury, this Budwig protocol recommends that you consume a dairy product! Dairy is highly correlated to increasing cancer risk. It is the very opposite of what you want to be consuming. Here is an overview of the scientific information regarding breast cancer and nutrition: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/breast-cancer/ That page gives you links to learning more about the relationship between dairy and breast cancer. It covers other topics as well.
      .
      I highly recommend getting Dr. Greger’s book: How Not To Die. It has an entire chapter on the concept of Breast Cancer. And all of part 2 will help you put the information from the book into a practical eating system. While much of that information is available for free here on NutritionFacts, the book puts it all together in a really accessible and orderly way. You will find some great tips/protocol for dealing with your breast cancer that are science-based. If you can’t afford the book, many libraries seem to carry it.
      .
      I wish you all the luck in dealing with this problem. I hope things go well for you.




      0
      1. Thanks. Yes, I am familiar with How Not to Die and have read the chapter on breast cancer. I also know that dairy is correlated with cancer. However, the Budwig protocol has saved thousands of lives. That’s why I’m giving it a good trial even though it seems counterintuitive on many levels. I have now cut back to one Budwig meal per day (8 oz. cottage cheese with 4 tablespoons flax oil, 2 tbsp. ground flax seeds, and 2 tbsp. ground chia seeds) so that I can still squeeze in all my raw and cooked veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. I am using high-quality organic cottage cheese (Nancy’s brand), so it should be free from the rbGH hormones and other bad stuff in commercial dairy products. I am puzzled as to why the survivor who told me she was taking 12 tablespoons of flax oil per day is not gaining weight, but she must have a much faster metabolism than I do. So, I’m trying cutting back from 8 to 4 tablespoons and will see how I do on that. I am not ready to give up on the Budwig protocol just yet, because there are just too many people who swear by it. I don’t think a cup of organic lowfat cottage cheese and 4 tablespoons of flax oil per day is going to harm me, and it might help. Besides, I’m also doing a lot of other things, including frankincense oil, green tea, turmeric, garlic, etc. etc. So, we shall see. I will investigate your links to see if there’s anything new to me — I’ve been spending a lot of time on this site and learning a lot, and keeping an open mind. So, thanks for your reply, and I look forward to learning more here. I really appreciate that there’s such a treasure trove of valuable info here.




        0
  13. I have been putting flax seeds on a baking sheet and roasting them in the oven for about 10 minutes (before they pop open). This creates a crazy-good nutty taste that I can eat by the handful. However, is heating them up as bad as cooking with flax oil?




    0
    1. A quick Google search with the search term “heating effect on flax seeds” turns up this well footnoted article that says that both the ALA and lignands in ground and whole flax seeds are quite heat stable. So bake away. But do be aware that there is such as thing as too much of a good thing. Flax are high in fat and so just like nuts can pack a lot of calories into a surprisingly small volume. Also omega-3 can thin the blood and reduces blood clotting rates. So a lot of ALA and you might find that you bruise easier and cuts can take a long time to stop bleeding (something I have noticed myself). As such I would think that it would have an effect like a low dose aspirin in that it should help reduce reduce the chances of developing a thrombus (clot) in an artery, be it in the heart (heart attack), brain (stroke), or lung (pulmonary embolism), all which can be very bad news. But again in the too much of a good thing category, beyond a certain amount the delayed clotting can represent a risk not only for external bleeding, but internal too like in the case of hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed). I looked around a bit to see if I could get and idea of what an upper tolerable limit for flax seed consumption might be, but I couldn’t find any definitive. The general sense I got was that much more than about 75-100 grams a day might be a bit too much, with a nice therapeutic amount being around 30-50 grams a day. A tablespoon of ground flax seed is about 7 grams while a tablespoon of whole flax seed is about 14 grams, so 50 grams would be about around 7 tablespoons of ground or 3 1/2 of whole flax a day (of course if you have a digital kitchen scale, you can just weight some out directly).

      I hope this helps. I know that I learned a bit more than I did before doing the bit of research.




      0
  14. Decided to try flaxseeds to see if they would improve my thermogram scans after 2 years of test result showing borderline risks. Latest scan showed normal results from taking flaxseeds for several months. Amazing. Thanks so much, Dr. Greger.




    0
  15. I’d like to suggest a video topic. Could you please explain the relationship between flaxseed and menorrhagia (and what to do about it in a whole-food plant-based diet)? It definitely triggers this in my case, and I imagine I’m not the only one. Because flaxseed figures so centrally into Dr. Greger’s advice, it would be very helpful to have some guidance on this. (For example, it would be helpful if the video explained: What percentage of women have this reaction to flaxseed, and what does flaxseed do in the body that causes this to happen? Is it better for those affected simply to pop an iron supplement, and grin and bear the blood loss, because flaxseed is on the whole too important to dispense with? Or should flaxseed only be taken at a certain portion of the menstrual cycle, and not others? Or should those who get menorrhagia when they take flaxseed avoid this particular food altogether?) Thanks.




    0
  16. I’m a breast cancer survivor who is allergic to flax. What other options do I have to duplicate its protective benefits against breast cancer, but also for total health?




    0
    1. Hello Anne, I am a volunteer moderator who helps Dr. Greger answer questions posted to the site. I am a plant based dietitian nutritionist located in Scottsdale, Arizona. There are many foods that Dr. Greger has spotlighted which are helpful with breast cancer survival outcomes. You may wish to view any/all of the videos on the site that relate to Breast Cancer. Here is a list of the videos that show up when I did a search on the main page using the terms Breast Cancer. Although it can be disappointing to discover you are allergic to a “superfood” like flax seeds, there are many other beneficial plant based compounds that are evidence based to help with Breast Cancer survival rates. Good luck, and thank you for your note!
      –Lisa Schmidt
      http://www.mindfulbenefits.com




      0
  17. I have read that it could be dangerous to eat crushed flaxseeds because they contain something toxic. Is it better to abstain then to eat them?




    0
  18. Hi, Kristian Smedjeback. There is a lot of confusing information on the internet, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between claims that are valid and those that are not. Other than the fact that is possible to be allergic to flax, I have found no credible evidence that it is dangerous to consume a tablespoon or two per day of ground flaxseed. You can find lots of information about potential benefits of flax seeds here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/flax-seeds/ I hope that helps!




    0
  19. I am a postmeno woman. I have a history of severe fibrocystic breast disease and am also DES exposed. I get lumps in my breasts from soy and flax. I’d like to consume flax anyway for the many benefits – health and baking – but I am afraid I may harm my breasts. I am not the only DES daughter to have this problem. Please help us do the wise thing.




    0
  20. I do not like the taste of flax seeds that much. How does everyone choke them down? They make my favorite smoothies taste bad… :( Chia seeds are so much better but they dont’ seem to be as healthy. Help!




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This