Expert Q&A

Flaxseed: Does It Benefit Cancer Patients?

Is flaxseed beneficial for cancer patients?

-Marcia from Nevada

Flaxseed is a functional food that has been available for thousands of years. A member of the grain family, flax has a nutty texture and is similar in size to a sesame seed. Recently, it has been the subject of press coverage for its health benefits.

Flax contains the vitamins B1, B2, C, E, iron, and zinc. It is also full of protein, healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6), and fiber. A diet rich in omega-3 is associated with a decreased risk of:

In addition, flax contains:

Insoluble fiber may help avoid colon cancer

This fiber helps regulate the colon and may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

Soluble fiber may help reduce cholesterol

Whilst this fiber helps reduce cholesterol levels while adding bulk to stools.

Ligins to protect against breast and colon cancer

These contain phytoestrogens that may help protect against breast and colon cancer by decreasing tumor cell growth.

Long term research on the effects of flax in human cancer patients is ongoing. Flaxseed may help with reducing the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease. It may also help with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A limited number of studies have shown a weak correlation with flax supplementation and increased risk of prostate cancer. More studies need to be conducted on this issue.

Recommended daily allowance of flaxseed

The daily recommended dose of flaxseed is 2 tablespoons of ground flax meal or 1 tablespoon of flax oil. To make your own flax meal, grind seeds with a coffee grinder. Then store the meal in an airtight container on a cool, dry shelf. Store flax oil in an opaque container in a cool place. Flax can be added to muffins, cereal, yogurt, or salads. If you are taking flax, be sure to inform your health care provider.

For more information on the benefits of including flaxseed in your diet see the following article from TheDietChannel:  Flaxseed: General Info.

Dena McDowell, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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