Flaxseeds are known to have hormone-like effects as they are a source of phytoestrogenic compounds named lignans. It can affect the length of the menstrual cycle and symptoms of menopause. It may decrease blood pressure, help with diabetes, reduce cholesterol and protect kidneys from damage.
One vital function of flaxseed is its ability to affect intracellular signals inside our bodies which otherwise play a role in the growth of prostate and breast cancer. Given it has phytoestrogenic factors, patients with ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) breast cancer should use flaxseed carefully, seeking medical advice from a general practitioner.
Studies including post-menopause women have shown that the supplementation of flaxseed increased the ratio of those hormones which are known to help keep breast cancer at bay. Flaxseed displays anti-cancer potential. Studies conducted in laboratories show that it may stop the growth and metastasis in human breast, melanoma, and prostate cancer. Some other animal studies show that it could decrease lung damage caused by radiation therapy and enhance survival. The result from animal models has exhibited promising results, although proper human data is still awaited.
Flaxseed was found to reduce tumor biomarkers in prostate cancer in men and other patients with breast cancer. Animal studies showed that the inhibition of metastasis in human breast cancer by flaxseed could be partly because of the downgrading of insulin-like growth factor 1 and the epidermal growth factor receptor expression. Cell death in breast cancer cell lines was also induced by flaxseed by upregulating p53 mRNA significantly. Cell proliferation was also shown to be inhibited by flaxseed in prostate cancer’s model.
Studies reiterate that the hormonal effects of flaxseed enhance its ability to modulate the biology of prostate cancer and its associated biomarkers and decrease serum lipid levels in the case of postmenopausal breast cancer.
Flaxseed should not be taken if undergoing any radiological procedures as it can interfere in the readings of some tests. It may also come with side effects like an allergic reaction, constipation, flatulence, increased bowel movements and prolonged luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Hence, before taking in any supplement, medical advice in accordance with your medical history is necessary.