• Does Flaxseed Inhibit Breast Cancer Cells? - Chromatography Investigates

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Does Flaxseed Inhibit Breast Cancer Cells? - Chromatography Investigates

Dec 01 2018

Cancer is one of the most serious problems faced in medicine. It is one of the main causes of early deaths in many areas of the world and can cause a significant decrease in the quality of life for sufferers. The World Health Organisation reported that in 2012, over 14 million new cancer cases were reported with over 8million deaths due to cancer.

A significant number of those were due to breast cancer - with over 1.6 million new cases of breast cancer and over 500,000 deaths due to breast cancer worldwide. In 2014 in the UK, there were over 55,000 new cases of breast cancer (with 390 of those being men) and 11,400 deaths due to breast cancer.

Factoring the risk

There are many different factors that can affect the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Gender, dietary and lifestyle factors, tobacco and alcohol use, genetics and whether a woman breastfed are all examples of factors that can affect the risk of developing breast cancer. As with most types of cancer, early diagnosis is key to a good prognosis. But after diagnosis, many patients change their lifestyles and diets to assist their chances of recovery.

Flaxseed - omega-3 and lignans

Flaxseed, or linseed, is grown in Europe, Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea. Flax has been cultivated as a foodstuff for thousands of years and is believed to have many health benefits including reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. Flax is found in all kinds of foodstuffs including crackers, ground up into smoothies and sprinkled on yogurts and cereal.

The health benefits of flaxseeds are believed to come from three main sources, soluble and insoluble fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. In fact, all those chicken eggs that are high in omega-3 probably come from chickens fed flaxseed in their diets. But when it comes to flaxseeds role in cancer, it is to the lignans that researchers have looked.

Lignans reduce the risk?

. Lignans are similar to the female hormone oestrogen, so similar that they can compete with oestrogen in certain reactions. This means that the impact of natural oestrogens become weaker in the presence of lignans. It is believed that this can slow down some kinds of breast cancers as they rely on oestrogen to flourish.

A recent paper in Nutrition and Cancer has looked at the impact of flaxseed on hormone levels in postmenopausal women. The team used chromatography to analyse the lignin content of flaxseed, this article, Blue Jacaranda Seed Oil Analysed Using Comprehensive Two Dimensional Liquid Chromatography with Quadruple Parallel Mass Spectrometry discusses the use of chromatography in analysing seeds.

The team report that flaxseed did change the hormone levels in the subjects tested and that;

Findings suggest flaxseed affects certain circulating sex hormone levels with possible implications for future breast cancer prevention research.


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