DURHAM, N.C. -- Flaxseed, an edible seed that is rich in omega 3-fatty acids and fiber-related compounds known as lignans, is effective in halting prostate tumor growth, according to a study led by Duke University Medical Center researchers. The seed, which is similar to a sesame seed, may be able to interrupt the chain of events that leads cells to divide irregularly and become cancerous.
"Our previous studies in animals and in humans had shown a correlation between flaxseed supplementation and slowed tumor growth, but the participants in those studies had taken flaxseed in conjunction with a low-fat diet," said Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., a researcher in Duke's School of Nursing and lead investigator on the study. "For this study, we demonstrated that it is flaxseed that primarily offers the protective benefit."
The researchers will present their results on Saturday, June 2, during a news briefing at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago. The multisite study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, also involved researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In the study, the researchers examined the effects of flaxseed supplementation on men who were scheduled to undergo prostatectomy -- surgery for the treatment of prostate cancer. The men took 30 grams of flaxseed daily for an average of 30 days prior to surgery. Once the men's tumors were removed, the researchers looked at tumor cells under a microscope, and were able to determine how quickly the cancer cells had multiplied.
Men taking flaxseed, either alone or in conjunction with a low-fat diet, were compared to men assigned to just a low-fat diet, as well as to men in a control group, who did not alter or supplement their daily diet. Men in both of the flaxseed groups had the slowest rate of tumor growth, Demark-Wahnefried said. Each group was made up of about
Contact: Lauren Shaftel
Duke University Medical Center