Budwig Diet

Effects of Flaxseed and Its Components on Cancer and Tumor Growth

Research studies on animals AND humans

Continuing from the first page devoted to studies into flaxseed and cancer, this page lists further research validating an anticancer effect of flaxseed and its compounds lignan, lignan precursors and oil. Please also note the important addendum at the bottom of the page.

  • The effect of flaxseed supplementation on early risk markers for mammary carcinogenesis.

    In this animal experiment, published in Cancer letters in 1991, flaxseed as the richest source of lignan precursors was fed to rats in the form of flour or defatted meal.

    The mammary glands of these rats showed strongly reduced cell proliferation and nuclear aberrations, with the highest reductions observed in those who had been supplemented with 5% flaxseed flour. Since simultaneously urinary lignan excretion was increased, the researchers felt that the protective effects could be related to the presence of lignan precursors in flaxseed.
  • Antitumorigenic effect of a mammalian lignan precursor from flaxseed.

    In this animal experiment published in Nutrition and cancer in 1996, several groups of rats were given a highly carcinogenic immunosuppressor (which artificially induces tumors) and put on a high-fat diet. One week after tumor initiation (i.e. at the early stage of tumorigenesis), the rats were additionally started on a supplementation of a lignan precursor (found in flax, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds) purified from flaxseed.

    20 weeks later, the mammary tumor load of the supplemented rats was reduced by nearly half. Additionally, their major organs showed no enlargement or gross abnormalities. The rats excreted significantly larger amounts of lignan suggesting that the ingested lignan precursor had been converted to mammalian lignans.

    This study demonstrated for the first time that the lignan precursor exerts an antitumor effect when ingested in the early phases of cancer development.
  • Suppression of tumor growth and metastasis by dietary fish oil combined with vitamins E and C and cisplatin.

    Fish oil is the richest non-vegetarian source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, as is flaxoil as a vegetarian source. This animal experiment (Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 2001) started from the premise that the omega-3s' anticancer effect already had been well established in numerous studies.

    It set out to test the effect on spontaneous metastasis of diets variously combining omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil with antioxidative vitamins as well as any supportive effect of such combination on chemotherapy treatment (cisplatin).

    When compared to the group of rats which were fed no fish oil but soybean oil plus vitamin E, the groups receiving the omega-3-rich oil (with or without extra vitamins added) had significantly less tumor development.

    They also, in contrast to the former, displayed no signs of loss of appetite or wasting of muscle tissue.

    Interestingly, the fish oil diet (which contained only basal amounts of vitamin E) "enriched" with additional antioxidants (vitamins E and C) was much less effective in slowing down tumor growth, i.e. decreased the anticancer activity of the fish oil.

    The study authors therefore propose that the anticancer action of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is owed to their "in situ" oxidation: oxidized omega-3s accumulate in the tumor cells, eventually killing them.

    The authors concluded that diets rich in omega3s may have beneficial effects against cancer particularly when including only minimal amounts of antioxidants.

    Moreover, adding drugs which further the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids could increase these anticancer effects even more.

    In contrast to the above, when chemotherapy is used together with omega-3s, their supportive effect increases when vitamins E and C are added.

    While the above study does seem to support Dr. Budwig's stance on supplements (but not her explanation how flaxseed oil plus quark/cottage cheese allows tumors to regress: by providing a cytodynamic [oxygenating, anti-entropy] effect rather than a cytostatic one, see the book excerpts), it must be pointed out that the study exclusively used synthetic vitamins which do not necessarily have the same effect as natural ones.
  • The influence of dietary flaxseed and other grains, fruits and vegetables on the frequency of spontaneous chromosomal damage in mice.

    In this animal study, published in Mutation Research in 2004, researchers tested various grains, fruits and vegetables for their ability to prevent spontaneously arising genetic damage (broken chromosomes or chromosome loss) in mice. The animals were fed a specific diet plus 20% grains or freeze-dried fruits or vegetables. Genetic damage was determined by measuring the number of so-called micronuclei in their blood (which stem from broken chromosomes or chromosome loss).

    Among the different food items tested, flaxseed exerted the strongest protective effect, reducing the frequency of micronuclei found in the red blood cells by up to 30%.
  • Pilot study to explore effects of low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet on proliferation of benign prostatic epithelium and prostate-specific antigen

    Diet seems to have a strong influence on the prostate (see e.g. Cancer Facts — Nutrition and Prostate Health). This small-scale preliminary study (Urology, 2004) set out to explore the effects of a low-fat diet supplemented with flaxseed at 30g a day (already shown to prevent prostate cancer growth) on benign prostatic epithelial tissue as well as on PSA, testosterone, and cholesterol levels.

    Fifteen men followed the diet over six months. While their PSA and cholesterol values decreased significantly, no such changes were observed in their testosterone levels. Repeat biopsy done on thirteen men at the end of the intervention period showed a significant decrease in the benign epithelium proliferation rates.
  • Lignans and tamoxifen, alone or in combination, reduce human breast cancer cell adhesion, invasion and migration in vitro.

    The process of metastasis occurs in several steps including adhesion, invasion and migration. Other studies done on mice had already determined that flaxseed decreases the metastasis of estrogen-receptor-negative human breast cancer cells.

    This test tube study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2003 investigated whether two metabolites of plant lignans which are abundantly found in flaxseed, and/or tamoxifen, could influence the metastasis cascade in two lines of the same type of breast cancer cells.

    The researchers found inter alia that both lignan metabolites as well as tamoxifen inhibited cell adhesion to various (glyco)proteins or collagens occurring in the extracellular matrix as well as proteins secreted by specific murine sarcoma cells in a dose-dependent manner. The same effect was noted regarding cell invasion.

    Note: Granted that these (still partly) animal research results are transferable to humans, the big difference resides in the fact that tamoxifen has highly toxic, in fact cancerogenic side effects. See these notes on tamoxifen.
  • Flaxseed inhibits metastasis and decreases extracellular vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts

    The process of angiogenesis is central to the growth and metastatic spread of a tumor. An essential player in this process is a signal protein stimulating the formation of blood vessels (VEGF) .

    Phytoestrogens including lignans have been shown to protect rats from cancer. The above animal experiment (Cancer Letters, 2002) additionally demonstrated that adding 10% flaxseed to the diet of mice bearing grafted human breast tumors decreased both the growth of their tumors, their metastatic spread as well as their levels of VEGF, thus possibly highlighting the underlying reason why both tumor growth and metastasis are inhibited by flaxseed.

If you key in "flaxseed cancer" at PubMed, you'll find dozens of studies validating Dr. Budwig’s conclusions. These studies, however, appear to go nowhere past nude mice studies because--duh!--no one wants to fund further studies on humans. Not profitable. (C.C., Long Beach, CA)

Is there a cure for cancer? After 20 years of research

discover what this German expert thinks.

Healing Cancer Naturally's stance on animal experimentation

Personally, I don’t advocate animal experiments for the reasons sketched below. Since they have been and unfortunately will continue to be done, I will occasionally include pertinent research on this site - as I have done above for instance in support of the efficacy of the "Budwig diet". I do this for those who believe that animal test results are transferrable to human beings (and to my knowledge they occasionally are).

More generally speaking, animal experiments could justifiably be called "as useless and dangerous for humans as cruel to animals" (e.g. thalidomide was tested safe on rats while penicillin would have never been allowed for human consumption had it initially been tested on guinea pigs or hamsters, since it kills those species!).

For a good summary re "Does animal testing help human medicine?" see for instance www.saav.org.za, and for thalidomide and an entire online book on the subject of 'ANIMAL RESEARCH TAKES LIVES - Humans and Animals BOTH Suffer' see www.health.org.nz (meanwhile both of the original sites are defunct but their content can still be downloaded via archive.org).

Dr Irwin D Bross PhD writes, "There is no good factual evidence to show that the use of animals in cancer research has led to the prevention or cure of a single human cancer." The full quote of Dr Bross and others can be read under On Cancer Research.

There are better alternatives that do not involve cruelty to animals and give much more reliable results for humans (such as tests performed on human cell cultures). These humane and solely reliable test methods just need to be implemented, and if a sufficiently large part of the public will call for them, they will be applied - to everyone’s benefit! Please consider joining this call!

The subject of cancer research based upon animal models of human disease is in fact of such major importance that Healing Cancer Naturally now devotes many pages to it.

Learn here about the detailed scientific arguments and the serious fundamental implications that the issue of animal experimentation & product safety testing based on animal models has for everyone’s health, recovery and safety, making it a possible matter of life or death for many.

I personally know someone who has been seriously ill, incapacitated and partially wheelchair-bound for over a decade after using a household cleaner containing a compound which had been tested "safe for humans" on animals.

Sponsored Links

Related section

For the most authoritative coverage worldwide of the oil-protein protocol developed by Dr. Budwig, see


Copyright © 2004-2024 healingcancernaturally.com and respective authors.
Unauthorized republishing of content is strictly forbidden. Each and every breach of copyright will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.
Use of this site signifies your agreement to the disclaimer.