The anticancer properties of flaxseed

September 10, 2009 by  
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flax seedFlaxseed is a versatile plant with lots of uses. Its leaves and stem give fibers and its seeds are believed to be beneficial to our health. Flaxseed oil is a popular natural supplement which is supposedly good for cardiovascular health.

Anti-cancer properties of flaxseed

Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas report that flaxseed consumption  may help reduce risks for certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.

The researchers looked at 161 male patients diagnosed with prostate cancer but haven’t started treatment.  Some  participants were given three tablespoons of flaxseed per day and some not. After three weeks, the researchers observed that cancer cells of those who had flaxseed were not growing as fast as those who hadn’t. The findings suggest that flaxseed might prevent and control prostate cancer. A tablespoon of flaxseed a day may be enough to keep the cancer cells away.

Nutritional value of flaxseed

According to the Flax Council of Canada, a tablespoon (about 14 g) of flaxseed oil is contains:

  • Calories:  124
  • Total fat:  14 g
  • Omega-3:  8 g
  • Omega-6:  2 g
  • Omega-9:  3 g

Eating the seeds directly may even be better. The seed coat of flaxseed  is rich in fiber and the inside is rich in nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in flaxseed in addition to the fatty acids are:

  • B vitamins
  • Lignan

The researchers believe that the omega-3 fatty acids and lignan may be responsible for flaxseed’s anti-cancer properties.

According to Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried

“Cancer cells migrate by attaching onto other cells. Omega 3 fatty acids keep cells from binding together and attaching to blood vessels. Prostate cancer is linked to the hormone testosterone. Lignan may reduce testosterone, and more active forms of this hormone. In turn, lowering testosterone levels may reduce a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer.”

How to prepare flaxseed

I know flaxseeds  as toppings for bread and pastries. The researchers at MD Anderson recommend that flaxseed should be ground to make it more digestible and make the nutrients in the seed easier to absorb. However, eating the seeds as such or the ground version might not be agreeable to the palate. Thus, they suggest other creative ways of taking your daily dose of flaxseed:

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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