Was It the Flaxseeds, Fat Restriction, or Both?

Was It the Flaxseeds, Fat Restriction, or Both?
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Researchers set out to find out what it was about a flax seed-supplemented, lower-fat diet that so effectively appeared to decrease prostate cancer growth.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Preliminary, but impressive results. A flaxseed-supplemented, lower-fat diet appeared to decrease cellular proliferation rates in men with precancerous changes in their prostates. “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 design some study where you split men into four groups: a control group; a flaxseed-only group; a lower-fat-only group; and then, a flaxseed-and-lower-fat group. And, so, 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 those four arms. And, as the title describes, it was apparently the flaxseeds, but not dietary fat restriction alone, that reduced 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 rates 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 could hardly call a 25-28% calories from fat a low-fat diet.  Still, the lower-fat groups were the only ones who saw a significant drop in cholesterol and body weight, so there are certainly benefits. 

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 it’s well-accepted and safe to use. So, why not give it a try?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Preliminary, but impressive results. A flaxseed-supplemented, lower-fat diet appeared to decrease cellular proliferation rates in men with precancerous changes in their prostates. “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 design some study where you split men into four groups: a control group; a flaxseed-only group; a lower-fat-only group; and then, a flaxseed-and-lower-fat group. And, so, 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 those four arms. And, as the title describes, it was apparently the flaxseeds, but not dietary fat restriction alone, that reduced 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 rates 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 could hardly call a 25-28% calories from fat a low-fat diet.  Still, the lower-fat groups were the only ones who saw a significant drop in cholesterol and body weight, so there are certainly benefits. 

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 it’s well-accepted and safe to use. So, why not give it a try?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to HealthAliciousNess via flickr

Doctor's Note

If the title of this video made no sense to you, be sure to see the first half of Flax Seeds 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 again (for example, see my video about the EPIC Study). The new Mediterranean diet study is another good example.

In my next video, Flax Seeds vs. Diabetes, we’ll see what hope our seventh leading killer has against the humble flax seed.

For further context, check out my blog post: Flax Seeds for Prostate Cancer.

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