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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jul;51(7):845-56.

Can the combination of flaxseed and its lignans with soy and its isoflavones reduce the growth stimulatory effect of soy and its isoflavones on established breast cancer?

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Consumption of phytoestrogen (PE)-rich foods (i. e., soy and flaxseed (FS)) is increasing because of their suggested health benefits. However, recent studies raise concern over the safety of soy and its isoflavones, particularly genistein (GEN), for postmenopausal breast cancer (BC), due to their potential stimulatory effects on human breast tissue and on the growth of existing tumors in rodents. FS, rich in PE lignans, which is metabolized to the mammalian lignans enterolactone (ENL) and enterodiol (END), has consistently been shown to have tumor inhibitory effects in a human clinical trial as well as rodent BC models. Using the preclinical athymic mouse postmenopausal BC model, combining FS with soy protein or GEN with END and ENL, was found to negate the tumor stimulatory effects of soy protein or GEN alone. The mechanism may be related to the modulation of estrogen receptor and MAPK signaling pathways. If these studies can be confirmed in clinical trials, then consumption of combined soy and FS, or their PEs, may reduce the tumor growth stimulatory effect of soy or GEN. This may indicate that if soy is consumed with lignan-rich foods, it may continue to induce its other beneficial health effects, without inducing adverse effect on postmenopausal BC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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