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Flax Seeds and Their Effect on Breast Cancer

San Francisco, CA, USA -- Canadian scientists say a common seed is proving uncommonly good at helping women battle breast cancer. Healthbeat team doctor Kim Mulvihill reports.

A new Canadian study shows the flax can significantly slow the rate of breast cancer cell growth.

"The scientific community is very interested in this study," says Dr. Paul Goss, Breast cancer researcher. "We have been bombarded by other investigators from around the world."

Researchers at the University of Toronto asked newly diagnosed breast cancer patients to eat two tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day. They then analyzed samples of their tumors before starting this treatment and 30 days after. They found that women taking the flaxseed slowed their rate of cancer cell growth by up to 33 percent compared to women not on flax. And there was nearly a 60 percent drop in the spread of the most aggressive cancer cells.

What's more, this nutritional treatment effect was equal to anti-cancer drugs like Tamoxofin.

"Flax seed is the first nutritional product that's been studied, that has actually produced hard scientific evidence," says Dr. Goss. Researchers think a fiber in the seeds may help sweep estrogen out of the body, blocking the hormone's ability to make tumors grow.

While this is just one piece of evidence, cancer support groups say it is very exciting news.

"There is a community out there who are hungry for this kind of information," says Sue Wright, Breast Cancer activist. "It won't bother them that it wasn't pharmaceutical. In fact, it might encourage them."

In fact, women have been eager to join other ongoing flax studies.

The researchers are now trying to raise funding for more studies to see if flax can help prevent breast cancer in the first place. This is not the first time flax has been shown to have health benefits. There are a number of studies showing it can help protect against heart disease. You can buy it in most health food stores.

©2001 KRON-TV