BCCT plans to write a summary on flaxseed lignans. While our summary is in development, you can visit these sites:
Clinical Practice Guidelines
According to the Society for Integrative Oncology’s 2009 clinical practice guidelines, there is insufficient evidence to rate the effectiveness of flaxseed lignans for helping quality of life or hot flashes.1
Reducing the risk of developing cancer or the risk of recurrence
Flaxseed lignans are reported to reduce the risk of some cancers.
Do not heat flaxseed oil, as the heat will damage the oil and form dangerous compounds.2
About Herbs cautions that because flaxseed has phytoestrogenic effects, patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer should use flaxseed lignan with caution. However, their summary on flaxseed did not cite any studies to back up this caution. A 2013 review of studies of flaxseed and breast cancer findings:
In vitro, flaxseed metabolites such as ENL [enterolactone] have been shown to interact with estrogen receptors behaving as weak estrogen agonists. While this action may be of concern to women with breast cancer, flaxseed administration appears to have no significant effect on endogenous estrogen levels in the majority of human trials, either in women with cancer or in healthy women. Conversely, studies that do report significant changes cite decreases in serum estrogen levels, suggesting reduced exposure to endogenous estrogen over time with flaxseed consumption. Fabian et al assessed the effect of 50 mg of SDG [a flax lignon precursor] on breast density over a 12-month period. Mammographic assessment found no significant change from baseline in breast tissue density following this intervention. These results lend further support to the notion that flaxseed does not appear to have a significant estrogenic effect in vivo.3
BCCT does not recommend therapies or doses, but only provides information for patients and providers to consider as part of a complete treatment plan. Patients should discuss therapies with their physicians, as contraindications, interactions and side effects must be evaluated.
Dosage recommendations are available from these sources:
- Alschuler LN, Gazella KA. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts. 2010.
- Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.
- McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2016.
- Moss Reports (purchase required): Select from the list of cancers down the left side of the page for a report describing uses of conventional, complementary, alternative and integrative therapies related to that cancer. Ralph Moss is among the most knowledgeable and balanced researchers of integrative cancer therapies. The cost of his Moss Reports is not negligible, but many patients find them of considerable value. Moss is also available for consultations.
- Natural Medicines Database (requires purchase)
Human studies are limited but suggest that if anything, including one to four tablespoons of flaxseed per day might reduce breast cancer risk, especially in post-menopausal women.
A blog post from the American Institute for Cancer Research advises: "Human studies are limited but suggest that if anything, including one to four tablespoons of flaxseed per day might reduce breast cancer risk, especially in post-menopausal women.”7
Integrative Plans, Protocols and Medical Systems
|For more information about plans and protocols, see our Integrative Plans and Protocols page.|
- Plans, protocols and programs
- Abrams & Weil integrative medicine approaches for prostate cancer8
- Alschuler & Gazella complementary approaches:9
- Elimination and detoxification
- Immune enhancement
- Reversing insulin resistance
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Block program:10
- Core diet plan
- Blood circulation
- Lemole, Mehta & McKee protocols:11
- Whole foods diet
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Chemo brain
- McKinney protocols12
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Cancer risk reduction
- Ornish Lifestyle Medicine
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: About Herbs, Botanicals and Other Products
- Therapeutic Research Center: Natural Medicines Database
- American Botanical Council: HerbMed
- Lone Star Medical Group: Natural Alternative Treatments
- Keith I. Block, MD: Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment
- Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella: The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition