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Frequently Asked Questions


Should women with ER+ breast cancer avoid flaxseeds and flax oil that contain the phytoestrogens called lignans?

There is a recent preliminary small human study showing that ingestion of 25 grams of ground flaxmeal per day in women with newly diagnosed post-menopausal ER+ breast cancer decreases biological markers of tumor growth the same amount as the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen during the time period between diagnosis and surgery. Tamoxifen treatment was not compared directly to flaxmeal in this study. The data are compared from two separate studies. In addition, this is such as small and early study that no recommendations for treatment with flaxmeal can be made based on these data. Much larger and longer head-to-head clinical trial studies in women would need to be done to offer this as a treatment option. However, these data look very promising that flaxmeal is not only safe but also potentially effective as a nutritional means for helping to treat ER+ breast cancer.

Please thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of ingesting flaxseeds as part of your dietary intake with your Oncologist and Registered Dietitian at your cancer center. Feel free to share the following reference for this data:

"Biological Effects of Dietary Flaxseed in Patients with Breast Cancer." Abstract from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium - December 2000, Thompson LU, Li T, Chen J, Goss PE Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Medical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada


Back to Main QandA Page


Flaxseeds Is it safe to use flaxseeds whole? I have not found anything that will grind whole flaxseed.
Flaxseeds Is the omega-3 fatty acid content of brown flaxseeds and golden flaxseeds really different? updated 4/02
Flaxseeds Do you have more recipes using flaxseeds? posted 1/02, updated 4/02
Breast Cancer Should women with ER+ breast cancer avoid flaxseeds and flax oil that contain the phytoestrogens called lignans?
Flaxseeds Will taking my medications mixed with flaxseed powder and applesauce cause them to not be absorbed? posted 2/02
Flaxseeds How quickly does one need to eat ground flaxseed to prevent spoilage? posted 5/02
Flaxseeds What is the best way to clean out my coffee grinder when switching from grinding my coffee to flaxseeds? posted 12/02
Flaxseeds My husband had prostate cancer. Should he be avoiding flax? posted 4/03
Flaxseeds Does consuming flaxseeds potentially interfere with the anti-estrogen effect of Tamoxifen? posted 9/03, updated 2/04, updated 3/05
Flaxseeds Are flaxseeds safe to eat after heating? posted 1/04
Flaxseeds The May 2004 issue of Prevention Magazine says that women with ER+ breast cancer should not be eating flaxseeds. Do you agree? posted 4/04



These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

Contact Information:
Phone/Fax: 734/996-9260

P.O. Box 130221, Ann Arbor, MI  48113

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