Body & Fitness

Can eating flax seeds guard against cancer?

Flax seeds may substantially lower the risk of breast cancer. They contain high levels of naturally occurring substances called lignans, which are found in the cell walls of plants.

Researchers from the U.S. Roswell Park Cancer Institute compared the diets of 683 women with breast cancer and 611 women without the disease. They found that those with the highest amount of lignans in their diet had a 50 per cent lower risk of developing the disease.

Previous research suggests that lignans may reduce levels of the hormone oestrogen; high levels of this hormone may fuel cancer growth. Flax seeds have the highest levels of this compound. Other sources include wholegrain cereals, rye, beans, seeds, nuts and berries.

Women with the highest intake of lignans had a 40 to 50 per cent lower risk of developing breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest intake, regardless of whether they were pre or post-menopause.

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