The Role of Flaxseed Oil in Preventing Breast Cancer

"Regular use of flax oil can help prevent and fight cancer; it mimics estrogen and enhances skin, hair and nails"

By Jade Beuder, R.R.T., R.C.P.

THE THREAT OF BREAST CANCER has become a national health concern. It is estimated that one in eight women will now be afflicted with this potentially disfiguring and sometimes fatal disease. According to Ross Pelton, Ph.D., author of Preventing Breast Cancer the largest misconception amongst women is that if they do not have a family history of breast cancer, they are at low risk. This myth is simply untrue. Pelton elaborates in stating that the majority of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer are in women with no family history of the disease.

While mammography and self-examination are effective tools in detecting the presence of a lump, a cancer may be present for as long as four years, undetectable by palpation or X-ray, before detection. Standard medical treatment for breast cancer ncludes lumpectomy (partial removal of the breast), mastectomy (total removal of the breast), chemotherapy, and radiation. While these are sometimes effective in ameliorating the disease, the results of standard medical treatment alone can be devastating to the psyche of women and to their overall health. In this light, an aggressive preventative approach appears to be the most humane and effective means of controlling the escalating rate of breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute has begun to focus on diet as a preventative measure to avoid certain cancers. It has been found that certain fruits, vegetables, and grains possess potent cancer fighting and protective compounds known as phytonutrients (naturally occurring and nontoxic plant chemicals). Perhaps the most powerful phytonutrient plant food discovered to date is flaxseed. This ancient grain contains a phytonutrIent called fignan that once ingested is converted to compounds that compete with estrogen for binding sites on estrogen receptors. The net result is a flushing of excess estrogen (linked to high incidence of colon and breast cancer) from the body. Ironically, lignans may someday replace the need for estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women due to the fact that they resemble estrogen on the receptor site, but without the potential risk!

Estrogen Therapy.

Women consuming llgnan~rich flaxseed oil products generally report a reduction in breast tenderness, bloating, hot flashes, and other symptoms related to PMS and menopause. Lignans in flaxseed also regulate women's menstruaJ cycles. In one study, women consuming lignans in flaxseed did not miss a single cycle, compared to the control group that missed several cycles. In addition to the lignans' anti-tumor and estrogen-mimicking capabilities, they have also been found to be powerful antioxidants, possessing anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

The cancer-protective effects of flax seed do not stop here. Flaxseed oil has also been studied for its possible preventative and protective effects against breast and other cancers. A study of 120 women revealed that those with the highest breast tissue content of an Omega-3 fatty acid found most abundantly in flaxseed oil had the lowest incidence of breast cancer. Of the women in the test group who had the misfortune of contracting breast cancer, the women with the highest levels of Omega-3 in their breast tissue also had the lowest incidence of metastasis (cancer spreading from breast to other vital tissues and organs). This fact may offer hope for women who are currently battling breast cancer and wishing to prevent metastasis.

Many women report the unexpected benefits of improved nail strength, improved skin texture and appearance, lustrous shiny hair, and lack of cravings for fat-laden and junk foods when supplementing their diet with flaxseed oil.


To appreciate the dual protective effect of lignans and flaxseed oil, it is imperative that consumers recognize and purchase the right products. Flaxseed oil is typically found in the refrigerated section of the supplements department in your favorite health food store. Look for flaxseed oil products that are labeled as "lignan rich." Due to flaxseed oil's limited shelf life, it is important that you choose products with both a "pressing date" and a "best before" date that does not exceed a four month span. Flaxseed oil products that are quality manufactured ensure you that the oil was gently expeller pressed without filtration or refinement. These oils are made to order for health food stores and sent manufacturer direct, arriving just days after being made.


Prevention of estrogen-related cancers

Prevention of metastasis of cancerous tumors

Reduction in hot flashes

Reduction in bloating

Reduction in breast tenderness

Regulation of menstrual cycle

Improved nail strength

Improvement in skin texture and appearance

Improvement in hair sheen and appearance

Lack of cravings for fat-laden and junk foods


Ross Pelton, Ph.D., recommends that every woman, regardless of familial history of breast cancer, consume at least one tablespoon of "lignan ricV' flaxseed oil a day as a major preventative measure against the disease. A breast cancer sup port group in Sacramento California has taken his advice in an effort to prevent reoccurrence and metastasis of breast can cer. A

JADE BEUTLER, R.R.T., R.C.P., is a licensed health care practitioner with over a decade of hospital and clinical experience in adult and neonatal intensive care, pediatric, and emergency medicine. He has devoted the last eight years to an intensive study of health and nutrition. His research has culminated in two newly released books, Understanding Fats and Oils, Your Guide to Healing with Essential Fatty Acids and Flax For Life.


Thompson, L. U., et al., Mammalian lignan production from various foods. Nutr Cancer 16:43-52,1991.

Setchell, K. D. R, and H. Adlercreutz, Marnmalian lignans and phyroestrogens: Recent studies on their formation, metabolism, and biological role in health and disease. Role of Gut Flora in Toxicology and Cancer, Rowland, 1. R. (ed.). Academic Press, London, 1988, pp. 31543.

Lampe, J. W., et al., Urinary lignan and isoflavonoid excretion in premenopausal women consuming flaxseed powder. AmJ Clin Nutr 60:122-8, 1994.

Sertaino, M., and L. U. Thompson, The effect of flaxseed on early risk markers for mammary carcinogenesis. Cancer Letters 60:13 5-42, 199 1.

Serraino, M., and L. U. Thompson, Flaxseed supplementation and early markers of colon carcinogenesis. Cancer Letters 63:15 9-65, 1992.

Setraino, M., and L. U. Thompson, The effect of flaxseed supplementation on the initiation and promotional stages of mammary tumorigenesis. Nutr Cancer 17:153-9, 1992.

Adlercreutz, H., et al., Determination of urinary lignans and phytoestrogen metabolites, potential antiestrogens and anticarcinogens, in urine of women in various habitual diets. J Steroid Biochem 25:791-7, 1986.

Bougnoix, R, et al., Alpha-linolenic acid content of adipose breast tissue: A host determinant of the risk of early metastasis in breast cancer. Br J Cancer 70:330-4, 1994.

Rose, D. P., and M. A. Hatala, Dietary fatty acids and breast cancer invasion and metastasis. Nutr Cancer 21:103-11, 1994.

Kelley, D. S, Alpha-linolenic acid and immune response. Nutrition 8:215-7, 1992.

Benquet, C., et al., Modulation of exercise-induced immunosuppression by dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids in mice. j7oxicolEnviron Health 43:225-37, 1994.

Flax Oil and Unsaturated Fats

Dr. Johanna Budwig, nominated for a Nobel Prize seven times for her work on fats and healing, notes that cancer, heart Infarction, diabetes, skin ailments, kidney, liver and gall bladder disease, as well as behavioral problems and sexual maturation are linked to Impaired fat metabolism. This has resulted from the body's Inability to assimilate fat due to the suffocating presence of commercially pro cessedfatsand oils-and the lackof highly unsaturated fats In the diet. Unsaturated fats are found In flax seed and several other oils.

(Flax Oil as an Aid Against Arthritis, Heart Infarction Cancer and 0ther Diseases, Dr. Johanna Budwig, Apple Publishing:1 370 E. Georgia St. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V51. 2A8,$5.95 plus shipping.)

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