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Articles by natural health author Barbara Minton
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Flaxseed Stops Ovarian and Breast Cancers
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Have you noticed products containing flaxseed springing up everywhere food is sold? Food producers are trying to get on the bandwagon because flaxseed and flax oil have been shown to be highly effective against ovarian and breast cancers.
Flaxseed is rich in phytoestrogen lignans, and in alpha linolenic fatty acids which the body converts into the Omega 3 fatty acids you've probably been hearing a lot about. These compounds have been shown to have potent anti-cancer effects. Flax oil is the active ingredient in Dr. Johanna Budwig's cancer protocol, the most high documented effective alternative treatment for breast cancer.
New studies shows flaxseed is highly effective against ovarian and breast cancers
New research from the University of Illinois School of Medicine has shown that nutritional intervention with flaxseed targets the pathways regulating branching morphogenesis, a fundamental feature in the development of both ovarian and breast cancer. Researchers used a model of ovarian cancer in laying hens to observe early events in the disease, as previous studies on the effect of dietary flaxseed in laying hens revealed its potential for both treatment and prevention of ovarian cancer. Their objective was to assess the effect of flaxseed on mechanisms of genes and pathways that are dysregulated in tumors.
Analysis of the tumors led to the identification of a group of highly up-regulated genes involved in the beginning states of disease. Levels of expression of these genes in tumors from flax-fed hens were reduced 40-60% compared to controls on the first identified mechanism, and 60-75% on the second, thereby demonstrating that flaxseed alters the progression of ovarian cancer.
Meanwhile, researchers from the medical school at the University of Toronto have just published a review of data assessing flaxseed and its components for their effectiveness in reducing breast cancer risk and tumor growth. They found that in rodents a diet of 2.5-10% flaxseed or the equivalent amount of lignans or oil reduced tumor growth, while a 4% flaxseed diet increased Herceptin effectiveness. Observational studies showed flaxseed and lignan intake, urinary excretion, and serum levels are all associated with reduced risk, particularly in postmenopausal women. Lignans reduced breast cancer risk by 33-70%, and all-cause mortality by 40-53%. Clinical trials showed that 25g per day of flaxseed with 50mg lignans taken for 32 days reduced breast cancer risk in premenopausal women. Mechanisms included decreased cell proliferation, decreased ability to supply tumors with a blood supply, and increased cancer cell death through the modulation of estrogen metabolism, estrogen receptor, and growth factor receptor signaling pathways.
These findings suggest that flaxseed and its components are appropriate both for prevention and treatment of breast cancer and its recurrence.
An older study published in the International Journal of Cancer reported that dietary flaxseed was able to reduce the metastasis of human estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in mice. Researchers for this study sought to determine whether the tumor inhibitory effect of flaxseed was due to its oil, or a lignan known as secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG), or both.
Rats were injected with estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells and after 8 weeks were fed either the basal diet, or basal diet supplemented with flax seeds, SDG, flax oil, or a combination.
Compared to the basal diet group, the tumors in all supplemented groups showed decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis (appropriate cell death). Lung metastasis incidence was reduced up to 70 percent in the flax seed, SDG, and flax oil groups. Distant lymph node metastasis was significantly decreased (52%) only in the flax oil group. Total metastasis incidence was lowered significantly (42%) only in the SDG plus flax oil group.
What these studies may mean for you
The studies reveal flaxseed and its lignan and oil components to be highly effective against ovarian and breast cancer. The Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds are the primary active agent producing these results. Omega-3 fatty acids are electron rich, and are able to enter cells to provide them with the electrical energy needed for the healthy completion of cellular processes. This was documented by Dr. Budwig more than half a century ago, yet it continues to be ignored by the medical establishment that makes its living by selling expensive radiation and chemotherapy, both of which have been repeated shown to be harming rather than helping.
Our bodies produce over 500 million new cells daily. When these cells divide, the old cell and the new cell must contain enough electron rich fatty acids to divide off completely from each other. When this process is not completed due to a lack of electron rich fatty acids, the course of growth and division is altered and the maturing and shedding process is never fully completed. Dr. Budwig has documented that this progression leads to the formation of tumors.
How to get the best from flax
Flaxseed is nature's repository of lignans and flax oil, all locked up in the seed of the flax plant for safe keeping until you are ready to consume it. Grind it up just at the point of consumption for the best results.
Flax oil is polyunsaturated and therefore highly unstable. It begins to oxidize quickly after processing and much of it is already rancid when you buy it, even if it has been kept in the refrigerated section. Although it is true that Dr. Budwig treated her patients with flax oil, it must be remembered that she treated those at the doorstep of death, and she needed a way to administer large doses of flax quickly, even at times giving her patient flax oil enemas to get the oil in to them before they passed away. Unless you are treating someone in dire straits, using flaxseed is probably the best approach.
If you are going to use flax oil, you will want only the freshest, best quality organic oil. Never buy flax oil from an unrefrigerated shelf. Fresh flax oil has a nutty taste that is quite pleasant. Any oil that does not taste pleasant is oxidized and is oil you should not used. The more bitter the taste, the more oxidized the oil is.
Do not buy flax oil in capsule form. Taste one and you will be appalled. The maker of the capsules is counting on you swallowing them whole and never tasting the rancid oil that is in them. Flax oil bought from a drugstore, supermarket, or discount center is usually quite oxidized and bitter. Even house brands from health food stores or online supplement stores are usually oxidized. Just because it's organic doesn't mean it isn't rancid.
There are two brands which produce organic flax oil that is usually fresh and good-tasting. These are Spectrum and Barleans. Spectrum is the more consistent of the two brands. These oils are available at health food stores, and grocery stores that cater to the health conscious. They are sold in the refrigerator section, and should be refrigerated again immediately after purchase and consumed quickly.
Taste the oil when you bring it home. If it does not taste fresh and good, if you detect bitterness, return it for a refund. Retailers seem to be quite used to people returning rancid flax oil, and they will give you a refund or replacement.
The amount of oil you need per day to keep yourself healthy is one tablespoon for each 100 pounds of body weight. according Dr. Budwig, a renown authority on fats and oils. If you have had cancer and are trying to prevent a recurrence you may want to double that amount. If you are actively fighting cancer or other serious disease, read about Dr. Budwig's flax oil cancer protocol.
Never heat flaxseed or flax oil. Heat destroys the power of its omega 3 fats and ruins the electron charge. This means that gimmicky products such as flax chips have no worth.
Spectrum and Barleans as well as others produce flax oil with lignans added. If you don't want to take flax oil with lignans but want to get the benefits of a lignan supplement, you can get one of the capsule forms on the market containing SDG. The best known of these is Brevail, made by the Barleans company. There are others that are equally as effective and cost less.
About the Author:
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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