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This Plant Compound May Reduce Your Risk of Death From Breast Cancer

Previous studies have shown that a diet rich in phytoestrogens lowers the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. Now a recent study from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, purports to offer clear evidence that lignans may inhibit the progression of postmenopausal breast cancer.

The study was published online ahead of print on September 6, 2011, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lignans are compounds found in whole grains, flaxseed, legumes, nuts, berries, vegetables and fruits. Lignans are a phytoestrogen, meaning they attach to the receptors for the hormone estrogen.

The study included 1,140 postmenopausal women who were diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer. All of the women were between the ages of 50 and 74. Each woman participated in a median 6.1 years of follow up and, within that time period, 162 deaths occurred.

Rather than using a self-reported food questionnaire, the researchers examined the participants’ levels of enterlactone, the metabolized form of lignans. They determined that women with the highest levels of enterlactone faced a 40% lower risk of mortality from breast cancer and that women in this category also showed fewer secondary tumors and incidence of metastasis.

Lignans have been linked with many other health benefits, including preventing prostate cancer, preventing osteoporosis, improving brain function, preventing cardiovascular disease, improving immune function, reducing inflammation, and aiding reproduction.

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