Flaxseed is the new sought-after supplement in faily diet owing to its component lignans which help women to get regular menstrual cycle and also reduce the risk of breast cancer, show recent research findings.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, flax seed contains lignans, also called phytoestrogens, bearing a chemical structure similar to estrogen but unlike estrogen that increases the risk of breast cancer, these brown seeds do not increase cancer risk but be more protective.
In studies conducted on animals, it was shown that lignans isolated from flaxseed help women during the menstrual period and post-menopausal period by lowering the risk of breast cancer. It was also observed that flaxseed did not interfere with the effectiveness of the anti-estrogen medication tamoxifen, said the AICR study. The higher blood levels of lignans show prominent cancer-protective features, said the study.
“For people who wish to consume flaxseed as a source of omega-3 fat or dietary fiber, studies do not support fears that flaxseed could increase incidence or recurrence of breast cancer,” says Karen Collins. However, more research is to be done before recommending it as a medication for breast cancer, said Collins in the paper.
In a previous study conducted from 2002 to 2005, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) researchers used the MARIE study to take blood samples of 1,140 women who had been diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer. After a mean observation time of six years, they related enterolactone levels to clinical disease progression.
Compared to the study subjects with the lowest enterolactone levels, the women with the highest blood levels of this biomarker had an approximately 40 percent lower mortality risk. When the scientists additionally took account of the incidence of metastasis and secondary tumors, they obtained a similar result: Women with the highest enterolactone levels also had a lower risk for such an unfavorable disease progression.
“We now have first clear evidence showing that lignans lower not only the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, but also the mortality risk,” said Jenny Chang-Claude.
There had been prior studies to determine the lignan intake by means of dietary surveys. But the results of such surveys are often unreliable and, in addition, there are big differences in the way individuals actually process the plant substances into effective metabolic products. Therefore, the Heidelberg team chose the more reliable measurement of biomarkers.
Otherwise, flax seeds have other potential medicinal properties, besides preventing growth of harmful cancer cells, even for prostate cancer. Since these seeds are found to catalyze insulin secretion in the body to regulate blood-sugar levels, diabetics are often advised to make it part of their daily diet.
In menopausal women, flaxseeds help them fight complications by maintaining balance in body hormones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It is also helpful in lowering bad cholesterol due to its rich nutrients.
The flipside of flaxseeds is that they are rich in calorie levels, 150 grams in four tablespoons.