Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flaxseed Extract Comparable To Drugs Like Flomax For Enlarged Prostate

Here's a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the gold standard of scientific research, that investigated the ability of flaxseed extract to lessen symptoms of BPH (short for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or enlarged prostate):

Effects Of Dietary Flaxseed Lignan Extract On Symptoms Of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2008

87 subjects were divided into 3 groups:
  • Placebo (0 mg flaxseed extract*)
  • Group 1 (300 mg flaxseed extract)
  • Group 2 (600 mg flaxseed extract)

*A flaxseed lignan extract containing 33% secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG).

There were statistically significant improvements in the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and the Quality of Life score (QOL score) in both the 300 mg and 600 mg groups.

There were statistically significant improvements in lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in both the 300 mg and 600 mg groups, e.g. more subjects taking flaxseed reported symptoms changing from "moderate/severe" to "mild."

There were also improvements in measurements of urinary flow and postvoiding urine volume.

The researchers concluded:
"Dietary flaxseed lignan extract appreciably improves LUTS in BPH subjects, and the therapeutic efficacy appeared comparable to that of commonly used intervention agents of alpha1A-adrenoceptor blockers and 5alpha-reductase inhibitors."
So, flaxseed extract was comparable to Flomax (an alpha1A-adrenoceptor blocker) And Proscar or Propecia (5alpha-reductase inhibitors). I wonder how effective eating flaxseed straight up would be.

Here's a related study, a small pilot study of 25 prostate cancer patients who were waiting to have their prostates removed. They were all put on a low-fat diet (20% of calories, which isn't that low-fat, it's double the 10% seen in Ornish diets and triple the 6% of the traditional Okinawans) and told to eat about 3 tablespoons (30g) of flaxseeds a day:

Pilot Study Of Dietary Fat Restriction And Flaxseed Supplementation In Men With Prostate Cancer Before Surgery: Exploring The Effects On Hormonal Levels, Prostate-Specific Antigen, And Histopathologic Features, Urology, July 2001

The average duration on the diet was 34 days (range 21 to 77).

The authors commented:
"Although we were skeptical that we would observe any differences in tumor biology between the diet-treated patients and the historic control patients with a short-term dietary intervention, we found significantly lower proliferation rates and significantly higher rates of apoptotic cell death (programmed death or "suicide" of cancer cells, something our body does naturally) (Both the proliferation rate and apoptosis were significantly associated with the number of days on the diet).

Thus, these finding suggest that a flaxseed-supplemented, low-fat diet may have an effect on prostate cancer biology that may be medicated through a hormonal mechanism."
Another point of note: In these men eating a low-fat diet and supplementing with 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds, "significant decreases were observed in total serum cholesterol (201 to 174 mg/dL, P <0.05)."

Three tablespoons of flaxseeds have about 165 calories, 12 grams of fat (primarily polyunsaturated and omega-3), 6 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbohydrate which is almost all fiber (so, 6 grams of fiber). These are little powerhouses.

I saw these studies on Dr. Greger's site. Here's a video where he discusses them and others related to BPH. And here's the video he used to kick off his BPH series. It's absulutely cringeworthy:

By the way, pumpkin seeds show benefit for BPH too: Pumpkin Seed Oil Relieves Symptoms Of BPH (Enlarged Prostate)

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