Recent studies indicate that diets rich in phytoestrogens and n-3 fatty acid have anticancer potential. This study determined the effect of flaxseed (FS), the richest source of lignans and alpha-linolenic acid, on growth and metastasis of established human breast cancer in a nude mice model. Estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-435, were injected into the mammary fat pad of mice (Ncr nu/nu) fed a basal diet (BD). At Week 8, mice were randomized into two diet groups, such that the groups had similar tumor size and body weight. One continued on the BD, while the other was changed to BD supplemented with 10% FS, until sacrifice at Week 15. A significant reduction (P < 0.05) in tumor growth rate and a 45% reduction (P = 0.08) in total incidence of metastasis were observed in the FS group. Lung metastasis incidence was 55.6% in the BD group and 22.2% in the FS group, while the lymph node metastasis incidence was 88.9% in the BD group and 33.3% in the FS group (P < 0.05). Mean tumor number (tumor load) of total and lymph node metastasis was significantly lower in the FS than in the BD group (P < 0.05). Metastatic lung tumor number was reduced by 82%, and a significantly lower tumor trend (P < 0.01) was observed in the FS group. Lung weight, which also reflects metastatic tumor load, in the FS group was reduced by 20% (P < 0.05) compared with the BD group. Immunohistochemical study showed that Ki-67 labeling index and expression of insulin-like growth factor I and epithelial growth factor receptor in the primary tumor were lower in the FS (P < 0.05) than in the BD group. In conclusion, flaxseed inhibited the established human breast cancer growth and metastasis in a nude mice model, and this effect is partly due to its downregulation of insulin-like growth factor I and epidermal growth factor receptor expression.
Read more about this study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12588699/