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Flaxseed May Curb Prostate Tumor Growth

Popular Plant Product Slows Out-of-Control Cancer Cell Division
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 4, 2007 (Chicago) -- A diet rich in flaxseed may help curb the growth of prostate tumors, preliminary research suggests.

Reducing fat in the diet, however, does not appear to have any effect on prostate cancer growth, says researcher Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, a professor in the school of nursing and the department of surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

The researchers studied 161 men with prostate cancer scheduled to have their tumors surgically removed.

In the month prior to surgery, they were divided into four groups: one followed their regular diets , one took 30 grams of flaxseed a day, one restricted their dietary intake of fat to less than 20% of total calories, and one took flaxseed and restricted their dietary fat.

Prostate Tumor Growth Slows

As measured by how fast their cancer cells were dividing, tumors grew about 30% to 40% slower in the men taking flaxseed whether or not they followed a low-fat diet.

“It’s reasonable to suspect that reducing cell proliferation -- the rate at which cancer cells divide -- is a good thing and likely to be associated with relief of symptoms and better survival,” Ted Gansler, MD, director of medical content at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, tells WebMD. Gansler was not involved with the research.

Demark-Wahnefried notes that flaxseed didn’t cause side effects such as nausea or vomiting.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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