When you glance at a handful of flax seeds, it might be hard to imagine just how powerful these tiny seeds really are for your health, especially for those who are on a healthy breast journey. After reading the following facts, however, I think you will agree that these humble, little seeds are true powerhouses for Breast Cancer healing.
I first became aware of flax after reading about a study done by the University of Toronto. Women with Breast Cancer who were awaiting surgery ate a muffin a day which contained about 5 teaspoons of ground flax. The cancer tumors were then analyzed after surgery. The results: the tumors were reduced by up to 71% in the women who ate the muffins!
So what’s the secret of the flax seed? Read on to find out!
The Healing Power of Lignans
- Flax seed helps you metabolize estrogen. A study conducted in 2004 again by researchers at the University of Toronto found that flax seed helped to metabolize estrogen in greater amounts than that of other phytonutrients, including soy. Another study conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York found that regular flax intake lowered the risk of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer. Both of these studies focused on the lignan component of flax seed.
Lignans are phytonutrients that can help to regulate and balance estrogen levels in the body. Should you be concerned about consuming too many plant estrogens? Not at all! Phytoestrogens contain only 2% of the potency of human estrogens; they also help to fill receptor sites with milder forms of estrogen and help to flush out truly dangerous chemically-created xeno-estrogens from the body.
- Flax seeds cause cancer cells to self-destruct. They do this in part by inhibiting the growth of the blood vessels that feed Breast Cancer tumors. A 2011 study by researchers at the Medical University-Sofia, Bulgaria also discovered a cytotoxic substance within lignans called Justicidin B which caused apoptosis (cancer cell death) in human Breast Cancer Cell lines.
- Flax seeds stops cancer cells from spreading. In addition to their Breast Cancer prevention effect on tumors themselves, flax seeds can actually slow down cancer metastasis, i.e. it can stop Breast Cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body. This is again caused in part by lignan’s ability to regulate estrogen metabolism in the mammary glands through a process called SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulation) and through substances found in phytonutrients called enterodiol (END) and enterolactone (ENL). END and ENL are also aromatase inhibitors and potent anti-oxidants. SERM is the ability of certain phytonutrients to lower estrogen in one area of the body (such as the breast) while increasing it in another, such as the brain or bones. The SERM process happens in the colon with the help of beneficial bacteria.
- Flax seeds help the liver do its job. Consuming flax seeds is detoxifying. It increases the production of “Sex Hormone Binding Globulin” which helps to flush out xeno-estrogenic effects in the ovaries and fatty tissues.
- Flax seed is one of the highest magnesium foods in the world. According to U.S. government statistics, approximately 68% of all Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to cancer. Magnesium is vital for the production of glutathione, DNA synthesis, nerve function, the utilization of many nutrients such as vitamin C and iodine and protection against heavy metals. Studies show that high levels of magnesium may inhibit cancer growth as well. Magnesium supplementation is a vital part of a healthy breast protocol and regular flax seed consumption is a natural way to get it.
- Flax seeds helps heal your digestive tract. In addition to it being a good source of soluble fiber, the ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) in flax helps line intestinal tract to maintain sound GI health. It can reduce gut inflammation and the effects of conditions such as Crohn’s and Diverticulitis. Remember that close to 80% of your immune system cells reside in your gut. Gut health equals immune system health with ultimately equates to lowering your Breast Cancer risk overall.
What is the Best Way to Consume Flax Seeds?
There are many ways to consume flax but the best way is grind your own flax seeds at home and immediately refrigerate. Do not purchase flax seeds that have already been ground up since the shelf life and packaging causes oxidation of the seeds. For breast health, consume up to 25 grams a day (or 5 teaspoons), sprinkled on food, blended in a smoothie, or used in baking. Baking with flax seeds up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit does not affect the nutritional value of the seeds.