There is new research out this morning from South Dakota State University which offers evidence that including flax in the diet may help prevent colorectal tumors or keep tumors from growing as quickly when they do form. Professor C. Dwivedi, head of SDSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, directed the study.
The study was conducted in mice that develop spontaneous intestinal tumors. This strain of mouse is often used as a model by cancer researchers due to this mutation.
“Results indicated that mice on diets supplemented with flaxseed meal and flaxseed oil had, on average, 45 percent fewer tumors in the small intestine and the colon compared to the control group,” said Prof. Dwivedi. The scientists published their research findings in February's Journal of Nutrition and Cancer.
Interestingly, the results showed that tumors in dietary flaxseed-treated groups, besides being few, were also very small in size when compared with what was found in the mice that hadn't been eating the flax.
Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Current statistics from the American Cancer Society showed that in 2008, 108,070 new colon and 40,740 new rectal cases were diagnosed in the United States, while colorectal cancers caused 49,960 deaths. Flaxseed contains a high percentage of alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acid, and lignans, a group of chemical compounds found in plants that act as antioxidants.
“Further studies are needed to establish the optimal amount of flaxseed that should be incorporated into human diets to get an anti-tumor benefit and to explore the possible mechanism of action by which flaxseed can help prevent colon cancer,” said the authors.