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Articles on Men's Health / Prostate

Flaxseed Slows Prostate Tumor Growth

From the August 2007 Issue of Renal And Urology News

FLAXSEED SLOWS the growth of prostate cancer in men awaiting surgery, a new controlled study has found.

Previous studies in animals and in humans indicated that flaxseed supplementation slowed tumor growth, but the participants in those studies had taken flaxseed in conjunction with a low-fat diet,” said Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, professor of nursing and surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. “For this study, we demonstrated that it is flaxseed that offers the protective benefit.”

She and her colleagues randomly assigned 161 patients awaiting prostatectomy to four groups: one consumed 30 g/day of flaxseed for an average of 30 days; one followed a low-fat diet (20% of calories per day or less); one took the flaxseed and followed the low-fat diet; and the fourth took neither (controls). Analyzing the tumors after surgery, the researchers determined the median proliferation rate (MIB-1 volume) of cancer cells by determining the ratio of the number of cells that were actively dividing to the number of cells that were not. The scores were 1.66 for the flaxseed group; 1.5 for the flaxseed and diet group; 2.56 for the low fat diet-alone group; and 3.23 for the controls. The findings indicated a cancer cell growth rate 40% to 50% slower among those who ate flaxseed. Reduced-fat diets did not appear to have an effect.

“We were a little concerned when associations between ALA and prostate cancer started coming out, several years ago,” Dr. Demark-Wahnefried says. “In fact we purposely performed interim analyses to assure that no harm was befalling men as-signed to our flaxseed arms even though our two pilot studies, our animal study, and our cell-culture study showed exceptionally protective effects. In these interim and final analyses, we did not see any evidence that flaxseed was harming the men; we only saw protective effects.”

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study also involved investigators at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Findings were presented in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Future studies will focus on patients with recurrent prostate cancer as well as on dose levels and flaxseed's effects over longer periods.

Flaxseed is rich in lignans, an anti-angiogenic substance found in plants that may cut off the blood supply to a tumor, thereby stunting its growth. Flaxseed is also a rich source of vitamin E, which previous studies have associated with protective effects against prostate cancer.

If you know anyone who has prostate cancer or a family history of prostate cancer, urge them to supplement with Flaxseed. It could be life-saving.