Effects of Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil on Cancer


bowl of whole flaxseeds

Can you use flaxseed oil to prevent or reduce your risk for cancer?

Flaxseeds and the oil are a plant-source of the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been documented to fight inflammation, may help boost the immune system, reduce the risk for blood clots and improving your mood.

Currently, there aren’t very many research studies involving flaxseed oil and cancer in humans.

However, there are a few animal studies that show promising benefits for this healthy oil.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil may Reduce Cancer Risk

  • A study published in Mutation Research Journal showed that eating a diet containing flaxseeds may reduce the risk for genetic damage by up to 30%.
  • Researchers in South Dakota looked at the incidence of colon tumors, tumor size and cancer in flaxseed or corn meal diets. Researchers found a flaxseed diet reduced the appearance of colon tumors from 83% down to 29% and the tumors shrank from 44 mm. down to 5 mm.
  • Another study published in Clinical Cancer Research looked at any effects when breast cancer patients who were awaiting treatment, received either muffins with 25 grams of ground flaxseeds or regular muffins without any flaxseeds. The researchers found that the women who received the flaxseed muffins experienced slower growing tumors. They found no significant change in the size and growth of tumors in the women who received the regular muffins.
  • Study shows flaxseed oil may reduce tumor growth – Scientists at The Department of Nutritional Sciences at University of Toronto conducted an experiment to see if a diet including flaxseed oil, flaxseeds or corn meal would have any effect on rats with cancer.  The researchers found that the rats who ate the flaxseed and flaxseed oil diets displayed an average tumor volume over 50% smaller compared to the rats that ate the corn meal diet. 

While the overall research on flaxseed oil and cancer is limited, there were some positive results seen in some of the available animal studies.

There are also claims made by a natural health practitioner named Dr. Johanna Budwig, that a diet based on flaxseed oil and cottage cheese (also known as The Budwig Diet) could help reduce the incidence of cancer.

At press time, there are no documents studies showing that a diet of this type can help reduce the incidence of cancer.

It’s important you consult with your Oncologist or Family Doctor before using any nutritional supplement that claims to have anti-cancer effects. 


Research References:

The influence of dietary flaxseed and other grains, fruits and vegetables on the frequency of spontaneous chromosomal damage in mice. Mutation Research. 2004 Jul 13;551(1-2):213-22. :

Chemopreventive effects of dietary flaxseed on colon tumor development. Nutrition and Cancer 2006;54(2):216-22. Bommareddy A, Arasada BL, Mathees DP, Dwivedi C. Department of Pharmaceutial Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

Flaxseed oil and Cancer Research: Flaxseed and its lignan and oil components reduce mammary tumor growth at a late stage of carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis, 1996 Jun;17(6):1373-6 Thompson LU, Rickard SE, Orcheson LJ, Seidl MM. Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Chemopreventive effects of dietary flaxseed oil on colon tumor development. Nutrition and Cancer. 2005;51(1):52-8. Dwivedi C, Natarajan K, Matthees DP. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

The inhibitory effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastasis of estrogen receptor negative human breast cancer xenograftsis attributed to both its lignan and oil components. International Journal of Cancer. 2005 Sep 20;116(5):793-8 Wang L, Chen J, Thompson LU. Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Flaxseed oil and Cancer Research: Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 2005 May 15;11(10):3828-35 Thompson LU, Chen JM, Li T, Strasser-Weippl K, Goss PE. Department of Nutritional Sciences, Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


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Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.