Phytoestrogen – What’s the Big Concern For Breast Cancer?

Phytoestrogen – What’s the Big Concern for Breast Cancer?

The role of phytoestrogen – which essential means plant-derived estrogen – especially with regard to its interaction with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, is a subject about which I am frequently asked. So frequently, in fact, I decided to shoot a video about it, so that I can save time answering the question!

I don’t mean to sound flippant – it’s an important subject, for sure. As breast cancer patients and survivors, we are frequently told to avoid phytoestrogens in the management of ER+ breast cancer, but is that good advice?

Please watch the video and find out what I have learned to be true over the years.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Johanna Budwig and her Protocol for Cancer

Dr Johanna Budwig

One of the most common questions I am asked as a breast cancer coach is “what is the best diet for preventing breast cancer recurrence?” The first thing that always comes to mind is Dr Johanna Budwig and her protocol for cancer.

I used parts of the Budwig protocol myself (along with many other things) when going through breast cancer and I believe there is sufficient evidence that it is an excellent option for decreasing the risk for developing breast cancer, and for supporting breast cancer recovery.

Dr Johanna Budwig was born in Germany in 1908. She passed away in 2003 at the ripe old age of 95. Dr Budwig was considered a top European cancer research scientist, biochemist, blood specialist, German pharmacologist, and physicist. Dr Budwig was nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times. For lots more information on this amazing woman, just Google “Dr Johanna Budwig”. 

In 1952, Dr Budwig was the German government’s senior expert on fats and pharmaceutical drugs. She was considered one of the world’s leading authorities on fats and oils, and her research illustrated the bad effects that commercially processed fats and oils have in destroying cell membranes and lowering the voltage in the cells of our bodies, which can then result in chronic and terminal disease.

Yes, I said voltage. Remember that our bodies are electric!

Dr Budwig did not believe in the use of growth-inhibiting treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation (*see important note below). Dr Budwig said “I flat declare that the usual hospital treatments today, in a case of tumorous growth, most certainly leads to worsening of the disease or a speedier death, and in healthy people, quickly causes cancer.

I won’t go through the entirety of Dr Budwig’s research, but as you can see from the recipes below, the combination of flaxseed oil with cottage cheese is the foundation of Dr Budwig’s protocol, along with a diet rich in plant-based foods, fruits and vegetables and little to no meat. Thousands of cancer patients have found this diet very beneficial. Some had their lives saved because of it.

Why the Combination of Cottage Cheese and Flaxseed Oil?

Dr Budwig discovered that when she combined flaxseed oil, with its powerful electron-rich unsaturated fats, together with cottage cheese, rich in sulfur protein, the chemical reaction produced makes the flaxseed oil water-soluble and much more easily absorbed into cell membranes. This provides powerful nutrition to every cell of the body. It helps to fight inflammation (and cancer, as we know is an inflammatory process), it improves cellular function, it improves the function of nerves, and it helps to cleanse the colon. For more information and research on flaxseed benefits see my article – Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors Linked to Inflammation. That article provides 15 ways that flaxseed benefits breast cancer patients, as well as a bunch of ideas on how to include it in your daily diet.

Dr Budwig used her special protocol for her very ill patients and, providing they came to her soon enough and followed her protocol closely, she was able to assist them back to health quite rapidly.

As mentioned, the Budwig protocol consists of eating several daily servings of a combination of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese (see the three recipes I’ve included below), in addition to increasing intake of fruits, vegetables and fresh juices. In a nutshell, the protocol advises that you:

  1. Take all highly processed fats like margarine and refined vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, corn and sunflower out of your diet.
  2. Remove from your diet all sugar, white flour, non-organic meat, and any processed foods (they contain too many GMOs).
  3. 2-3 times per day, use one of the following recipes.
  4. Increase vegetable and fruit intake, and if you are eating meat be sure to only choose high-quality animal protein (free range organic chicken and eggs, wild-caught deep sea fish like sardines, salmon, trout, halibut and tuna, and organically raised beef). If very ill, avoid meat altogether.
  5. Get some exercise daily and get a little sunshine on your skin (10-15 minutes per day if you can).

What About the Dairy Component?

My thrivers who follow my advice will have this question: “But I thought you told us not to have dairy products?” They would be right, I did say that.

But this is an exception. What we are discovering is that if the cottage cheese in the recipes is organic or taken from dairy cattle that are able to freely roam, are given no antibiotics or growth hormones, the combination of the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil and flax meal is incredibly healing.

The Budwig Center Clinic, located in Spain, has programs that are based on Dr Budwig’s protocol and many other natural cancer treatments. They treat patients with all sorts of medical issues by combining the Budwig diet along with other natural medicine treatments like hyperthermia, cannabidiol, bioenergetic restoration therapy, frequency generator sessions, photonic light therapy, bio mat energy therapy, kinesiology, emotional rebalancing, far infrared saunas, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicine, and more.

It’s important to understand that although the Budwig protocol can be used as an alternative to traditional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, it is recommended that it be utilized along with other medical treatment approaches. Whether you choose natural therapies or conventional medical treatment is up to you but I don’t advise using the Budwig protocol as a stand-alone treatment.

I promised you some recipes, and here they are.

Healing Recipes Based on Budwig Protocol

Please note that the cottage cheese or quark in these recipes must be combined first, and combined well, with the flaxseed oil – when the two amalgamate, they create a catalyst for cellular healing. The sulphur contained in the cheese/quark connects with the oil molecules and a synergy occurs. This makes the flaxseed oil more water soluble so that our cells can easily take it up and digest it.

The Budwig Muesli Recipe 

1-2 tbsp freshly ground organic flaxseed
Fresh in-season organic fruit, sliced or diced (like apples, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, oranges, mango, plums etc.)
1/4 cup ground organic raw walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews or Brazil nuts

Cream topping:
1/2 cup organic cottage cheese or quark
1-2 tbsp organic flaxseed oil
Your choice of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon juice, or raw coconut for more flavor

Directions: In a deep bowl, layer in (1) the freshly ground flaxseed (best to grind it yourself using a coffee bean grinder for absolute freshness – the store-bought powder is generally rancid); (2) the fresh fruit; (3) the ground nuts. In a blender or using a hand-held stick blender, combine the ingredients for the cream topping and blend well. Take about one minute to do this – it should look like a thick, creamy yogurt, that means the mixture is completely homogenized. Spoon the cream topping mixture over the other ingredients in the bowl, for a rewarding and cancer-blasting breakfast or meal for any time of day.

Smoothie à la Budwig

2/3 cup organic cottage cheese
1/3 cup organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil
1/2-1 cup organic fruit of your choice
Optional ingredients:
1 tsp organic turmeric
1 tsp freshly chopped ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil in blender container (or use a stick blender or smoothie maker) – make sure the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil combine into a homogenous blend. Then remove the lid and add one-half to one cup organic fruit of your choice and blitz again. For extra cancer-blasting power, add any of the optional ingredients.

Salad Dressing à la Budwig

3 tbsp organic cottage cheese or quark
3 tbsp organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small knob ginger or turmeric, minced
2 tsp raw honey
Fresh herbs of your choice

Combine the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil in blender container (or use a stick blender or smoothie maker) – make sure the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil combine into a homogenous blend. Then remove the lid and add the rest of the ingredients, blitz again. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before using. This recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes, but this is the basic recipe.

*Important note: I’m not recommending you give up chemotherapy or radiation if you’ve decided on this course of treatment.  I do believe that the recipes shared here should be included in anyone’s diet who has been fighting cancer or is anxious to keep it away.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Fatigue In Breast Cancer Survivors Linked To Inflammation

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / Marin

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / Marin

Fatigue In Breast Cancer Survivors Linked To Inflammation

A common complaint amongst breast cancer survivors, especially if they have been through the gamut of conventional medicine treatments, is fatigue.  I hear this all of the time and, indeed, suffered through it myself after going through 6 months of chemotherapy.

The Link Between Fatigue, Inflammation and Chemotherapy

An interesting study reported in 2012 [1] found that high levels of inflammation may promote fatigue in women treated for breast cancer.

The study followed 633 women, all breast cancer survivors with an average age of 56 years and treated for stage I, II or III breast cancer.  It was discovered that 40% of the women in the study had elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood, which is a marker of inflammation.  40% of the women also suffered from fatigue.  Interestingly, women with elevated CRP levels were 1.8 times more likely to feel fatigue.

“Fatigue is common among breast cancer survivors and may persist for years after cancer treatment, clustering with comorbid symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and pain that reduce participation in life activities and quality of life”, researchers reported.

This makes sense, especially in view of the fact that chemotherapy and radiation are both associated with increasing inflammation in the body.  In fact, a recent study [2] indicated that chemotherapy leaves a long-lasting epigenetic imprint in the DNA of the blood cells of breast cancer patients and that imprint is associated with inflammation up to 6 months after treatment is completed!

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats Play A Role In Inflammation

Going back to the first study and those 633 women [1] the researchers investigated the intake of omega-3 fats, which are highly anti-inflammatory, as well as omega-6 fat intake, which tends to be pro-inflammatory.  It was found that a higher intake of omega-6 fats (found in most cooking oils and processed foods) was associated with both higher CRP levels and a 2.6 greater likelihood of feeling fatigued.

Conversely, women who were including omega-3 fats in their diet had the lowest levels of CRP and reported feeling less fatigue.

Inflammation Is Associated With Reduced Survival

It is well known that inflammation is associated with reduced survival among women with breast cancer [3] and inflammation also increases the risk of atherosclerosis and development of further cancers.  Cancer is, after all, an inflammatory condition.

The good thing is there is something we can do about all of this.

Good Nutrition and Omega-3s Are Helpful

Both inflammation and fatigue can be improved with simple dietary changes.  Follow the recommendations on my page Diet And Cancer and include plenty of fresh salads, vegetables, whole grains and modest amounts of fruit in your diet. And most especially, get those healing omega-3 fats into you!

Omega-3 fats are easily included in the diet and the best source is freshly ground organic flaxseed.  Freshly ground is best because the fats have not degenerated as with some commercially prepared flaxseed oils and freshly ground includes the best quality fiber and lignans.

The 15 Best Reasons To Take Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been shown to have wonderful health benefits – here are 15 of the best things it does for us:

  1. May protect against primary breast cancer [4], [6] 
  2. Decreases incidence of hot flashes [6]
  3. Increases cancer cell death [6]
  4. Decreases HER2 expression (a protein associated with breast cancer malignancy) [6] 
  5. Decreases breast cancer cell proliferation [5], [6]
  6. Improves normal cell membranes
  7. Improves breast density
  8. Exhibits anti-invasive properties [5] 
  9. Decreases risk of primary breast cancer [4], [5], [6]
  10. Reduces risk of breast cancer mortality by 33-70 percent [5], [6]
  11. Increases effectiveness of tamoxifen [5]
  12. Increases effectiveness of Herceptin [5]
  13. Improves mental health and depression [6], [7]
  14. Good for bowel health due to high fiber content
  15. Great for cardiovascular health

16 Tips For Including More Flaxseed Into Your Diet

A common complaint among breast cancer survivors is that they simply forget or can’t be bothered grinding up the flaxseed and finding ways to incorporate it into their diet, so here are my best tips on delicious ways you can use it:

  1. Sprinkle it on salads
  2. Add it to freshly prepared juices
  3. Put it in smoothies
  4. Put it in sandwiches by mixing it with mustard, mayo or mashed avocado (that way it doesn’t fall out!)
  5. Mix it into muesli, granola, or oatmeal
  6. Mix it into hummus or dips
  7. Mix it into guacamole
  8. Mix it into protein shakes
  9. Add it to organic yogurt
  10. Combine it with organic cottage cheese for some extra special anti-cancer properties (see the Budwig Diet)
  11. Sprinkle it on vegetables
  12. Sprinkle it on soup just before serving
  13. Mix it into baked goods
  14. Mix it in with any nut butter
  15. Sprinkle it into casseroles
  16. Mix it into pancake batter

References:
1. Fatigue, Inflammation, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acid Intake Among Breast Cancer Survivors — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341143/
2. Epigenetic changes associated with inflammation in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy — http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159114000567
3. Elevated biomarkers of inflammation are associated with reduced survival among breast cancer patients — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2717751/
4. Consumption of flaxseed, a rich source of lignans, is associated with reduced breast cancer risk — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354422
5. Flaxseed and its lignan and oil components: can they play a role in reducing the risk of and improving the treatment of breast cancer — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24869971
6. Flax and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24013641
7. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: A primer for the mental health professional — http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1476-511X-3-25.pdf

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / M Bartosch

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / M Bartosch

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

As a follow-up to my two articles on xenoestrogens, Unraveling the Mystery of Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance, in which I explain pretty thoroughly what xenoestrogens are, and Protect Yourself From Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance, in which I offer a list of things you can do to protect yourself against them, I thought it might be useful to share with you a list of the best nutrients that offer protection against the damaging effects of xenoestrogens.

There are many lifestyle changes you can make to protect yourself against xenoestrogens and there is a big list of them in that second article (above).  It’s reasonably easy to change your body products, your household cleaning products, stop wearing perfume, etc.  However, I know that some of you work in environments which constantly expose you to xenoestrogens, and if changing jobs is not possible you need to know which nutrients and dietary changes will offer some protection for you.

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

Calcium D-Glucarate – a calcium salt which helps detoxify xenoestrogens and blocks the body’s reabsorption of estrogen and xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 400–600 mg per day, divided into two doses. Found in abundance in apples, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and alfalfa.

Probiotics – help to decrease the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, made from bad bacteria in your gut.  Beta-glucuronidase increases estrogen recirculation so you definitely want to keep that one under control.  Good quality probiotics help you in so many other ways too!  Look for probiotics that contain 10-15 billion colony forming units.

Cruciferous Vegetables – first of all, they contain potent anti-cancer compounds, but the most important one is sulforphane which has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that help to eliminate toxic estrogens and xenoestrogens.  Found in abundance in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage.  For optimal effect they should be eaten raw because heating them inactivates the enzymes.  Also chew them well so the enzyme that activates sulforaphane is released.

Curcumin – a powerful anti-inflammatory for the body, curcumin also helps the liver eliminate and detoxify cancer-causing estrogens and xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 600-800 mg per day.

Milk Thistle – one of the best herbs for the liver, milk thistle is extremely helpful for maintaining proper estrogen balance in the cells of the body. It detoxifies a wide range of hormones, drugs, and toxins, including xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 50–100 mg per day (just make sure that your supplement contains at least 80% silymarin, which is the  active ingredient in milk thistle).

Green Tea – the polyphenols in green tea help eliminate xenoestrogens and support the liver in metabolizing fats and hormones.  The easiest way to derive the benefits is just to drink green tea throughout the day.  It’s nice both hot and iced and you can add ginger and lemon to enhance the flavor and get more anti-cancer benefits.

Flax Seeds – freshly ground organic flax seeds provide so much protection for women (see my article Flaxseed Benefits and a Delicious Source) but for the purposes of this article, the most important thing you need to know is that the lignans in freshly ground flax seeds block harmful xenoestrogens in the body.

Other good practices to adopt:

Drink Plenty of Filtered Water – every cell in our body requires water to function optimally, which includes waste elimination.  Water helps you to flush out excess cellular waste, lubricates our bowels (thus preventing constipation) and will help you to eliminate xenoestrogens much better.  Try to drink at least 4 large glasses of water a day (approximately 2 liters).

High Protein Diet – eating plenty of good quality protein protects you against xenoestrogens in a very special way.  The presence of ample dietary protein increases the activity of cytochrome P450, an important enzyme needed to detoxify both estrogen and xenoestrogens.  In particular, the amino acids lysine and threonine (found in meat, fish, beans, eggs, and some seeds, particularly sesame and fenugreek) especially support the liver and since xenoestrogens are metabolized by the liver, it is thought that these two amino acids can help the liver get rid of xenoestrogens more efficiently.

Eat Plenty of Fiber – to ensure adequate removal of xenoestrogens, you need to avoid constipation.  Having regular bowel movements keeps xenoestrogens from getting recirculated back into your body.  And dietary fiber helps to bind to excess estrogen and xenoestrogens in the gut and carry them out. Fiber is found in plant foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  You need at least 25 grams per day.  Please remember to drink more water when you increase fiber!

Buy Organic Produce and Meats  – whenever and wherever you can because they will help you to reduce the load of xenoestrogens coming into your body with conventionally grown and raised items.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Flaxseed Benefits and A Delicious Source

https://marnieclark.com/Flaxseed-Benefits-and-A-Delicious-SourceFlaxseed Benefits and a Delicious Source

I write frequently about the health benefits of flaxseed because they are such a great source of omega-3 fats (and our body does not produce omega-3’s, we have to get them via our food and supplements), but many still have not embraced this wonderful little superfood, so here are the 7 best benefits:

  1. Powerful Little Lignans – flaxseed is broken down by your body into chemicals called lignans, which are similar to the hormone estrogen.  At first blush, if you have estrogen receptor positive breast cancer this might seem like a bad thing but what seems to occur is that lignans compete with estrogen for a part in certain chemical reactions.  As a result, natural estrogens seem to become less powerful in the body. Some researchers believe that lignans may be able to slow down the progress of certain breast cancers and other types of cancers that need estrogen to thrive. Additionally, lignans do not appear to interfere with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
  2. Fiber – flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber which is lacking in the average diet. They can assist with constipation.
  3. Natural anti-inflammatory – two components in flaxseed, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans, reduce inflammation in the body, making it an important nutrient for conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and even asthma.  Women who have tender breasts just prior to menstruation often obtain good benefits and relief from taking flaxseed.
  4. Cardiovascular health – again due to the lignans, which have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%, flaxseed also seems to help reduce cholesterol levels.
  5. Blood sugar – preliminary research suggests that the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).
  6. Hot flashes – a 2007 study of menopausal women, reported that 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed mixed with juice, cereal, or yogurt two times daily cut their hot flashes in half and reduced the intensity of hot flashes by 57%.  The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week.  It doesn’t work for everyone – there are a lot of other factors involved, but give it a try if you’re suffering from hot flashes.
  7. Weight loss – taking 1-2 tbsp of flaxseed before a meal can make you feel less hungry and make it easier to cut back on what you eat.

How Much Do We Need and Best Ways To Get It

So how much flaxseed is recommended?  1-2 tbsp per day is sufficient to get great benefits.  You can mix it in juice, sprinkle it on cereal or yogurt, it’s delicious sprinkled on a salad, you can reduce some of the white flour in cakes or muffins or breads and replace that with flaxseed, you can tuck it into dishes like casseroles, and even sprinkle it inside a sandwich.  I sometimes apply flaxseed oil on patches of dry skin – mixed with other oils like almond and avocado and essential oils – after all, our skin absorbs nutrients just like a sponge!

It’s best not to eat the seeds whole as the hard shell of the seed protects the oil inside pretty well, they are likely to just pass through you undigested.   The best way to obtain the benefits of flaxseed is to grind the seed yourself in small amounts – using a small coffee grinder – and then store the meal in the freezer.

A Delicious Source

I wanted to share with you a great product that has some nice health benefits.  I’m not affiliated with the company in any way, nor will I benefit from the recommendations – I just like to give out kudos to companies when they make great products.

Linwoods are producing a really great ground flaxseed product in lots of different flavors – the flaxseed and goji berry combination was my favorite but they also have a flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seed and goji combo that is pretty great.  Their ground hemp seed meal is also nice.

Flaxseed products can tend to taste a bit more like oily cardboard that anything you’d like to sprinkle on yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, etc., but this is truly yummy.  It’s nutty and full of flavor and the goji berries (high on my list of anti-cancer fruits) give it a nice zing.

Linwood’s products are available at Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Shaws and Hyvee stores around the nation.

Sources:

www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flaxseed/AN01258

10 Benefits of Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

My other articles on flaxseed benefits: Flaxseed Oil Enhances Effect Of Herceptin Against Her2+ Breast CancerOmega 3 Fatty Acids May Improve Chemotherapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

Flaxseed Oil Enhances Effect Of Herceptin Against HER2+ Breast Cancer

Flaxseed Oil Enhances Effect Of Herceptin Against HER2+ Breast Cancer

Image source freedigitalphotos.net and Stoonn

Updated 11/7/2019

Today I want to share with you two studies that both show that flaxseed oil enhances the effect of Herceptin for those with HER2 positive breast cancer.

Admittedly, the studies [1], [2] were carried out with mice.  However, I feel compelled to share this information with you because if it happens with humans as well, it is clinically relevant. And adding a little flaxseed oil (or freshly ground flaxseed) to your diet is non-toxic, easy to do, and wonderfully healthy for you.

The research examined the effects of flaxseed oil on breast cancer cells and how it reacted with the targeted drug Herceptin, created especially to battle HER2-overexpressing cancers.

The 2010 Study Results

The 2010 study [1] looked at how flaxseed oil interacts with the drug Trastuzumab, better known as Herceptin.  Researchers implanted HER2+ human breast cancer cells in immune-deficient mice.  The mice were given flaxseed oil as part of their diet, along with various doses of Herceptin.  In the control group of mice who received neither oil nor drug, the tumors grew unchecked, some increasing in size by 187% over the four weeks the experiment lasted.

For the other two groups, Herceptin was given at two different doses.  The tumors in the mice receiving the lower dose (2.5 mg/kg body weight) did not grow, staying the same size through the course of the study.  The higher dose of Herceptin (5mg/kg body weight) worked better than the low dose – the tumors decreased by 75%.  That’s remarkable enough, but read on.

The mice who received flaxseed oil did even better.  The tumors in the mice who got Herceptin at low doses but also received flaxseed oil regressed by 89%.  For mice receiving Herceptin at the high dose plus flaxseed oil, the tumors regressed 84%.  So for these mice, more Herceptin was not necessarily better.

The tumor sizes were tracked for several weeks after the drugs were stopped and the results got more interesting.  The benefit seen in the low dose Herceptin plus flaxseed oil mice continued to increase even after stopping the drug, so that two weeks after the drug was stopped the tumors in the low Herceptin dose plus oil mice were 87% smaller than in the mice that only received the Herceptin at low doses. They tied with the mice that had been given the drug in high doses.

The study concluded: “Flaxseed oil did not interfere with Trastuzumab but rather enhanced its tumor-reducing effects and combined flaxseed oil and low dose Trastuzumab was as effective as high dose Trastuzumab treatment.

That’s very good news – it appears as though a person could tolerate a lower dose of Herceptin if they combined it with flaxseed oil – thus reducing toxicity and increasing effectiveness.

The 2015 Study Results

If you’re wondering how the tumors would have fared using flaxseed oil on their own, a study carried out in 2015 [2] looked at that as well. Again using immune-deficient mice, researchers split the mice into three groups – those receiving flaxseed oil alone, those receiving flaxseed oil and Herceptin at 1 mg/kg, and those receiving flaxseed oil and a higher dose of Herceptin at 2.5 mg/kg.

The results of the 2015 study showed that the mice receiving flaxseed oil alone had no difference in tumor growth. However, the group that fared the best and had the largest reduction in tumor size were the mice that had the flaxseed oil and the higher dose of Herceptin (2.5 mg/kg). The combination of flaxseed oil and Herceptin not only reduced tumor size but led to reductions in HER2 signaling which also reduced cell proliferation (rapid growth) and increased apoptosis (planned cell death – a good thing in cancer cells).

Now obviously we would much rather see the results of a human trial but since flaxseed oil (or freshly ground flaxseed) is so good for you anyway, there seems little reason to wait until such data has been published. If you have been diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, my advice would be “Get it in you!” (organically grown, of course)

Recommended Dosage

It’s extremely difficult to translate dosing information from mice to humans, as you can imagine. However, if the data obtained in this study were to hold true in humans, adding flaxseed oil to your regimen could very well enhance the anti-tumor effects of Herceptin. I would recommend dosing at 1-2 tablespoons per day for an average-sized person.

Reference:
[1] Flaxseed oil-trastuzumab interaction in breast cancer — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20580760

[2] Flaxseed oil enhances the effectiveness of trastuzumab in reducing the growth of HER2-overexpressing human breast tumors (BT-474) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25441844

I have quite a few more articles about HER2 positive breast cancer – visit this link to see them all.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

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