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Subject:Flax Seed, Shiitake Mushrooms

I am presently being treated with Taxol for breast cancer.  Will the consumption of flax seeds in moderation interfere with this treatment?  I have read that these seeds have an effect on increasing/decreasing the size of blood vessels.

Also, does the consumption of Shiitake mushrooms have any negative affect on my treatment.

Posted: 25 Jan 2006 04:16 PM
Originally Posted: 25 Jan 2006 04:17 PM
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Subject:Flax Seed, Shiitake Mushrooms

I believe your concern about flax increasing the size of blood vessels may refer to the role of omega 3 fatty acids (including alpha linolenic acid found in flax seeds and flax oil) in prostaglandin formation, which leads to dilation (increase in the diameter of) blood vessels. However, moderate consumption of omega 3 containing foods is unlikely to interfere with medication/treaments. This also answers your question about Shiitake mushrooms. I would encourage you to enjoy any and all type of mushrooms, along with a variety of other fruits, vegetables, and plant foods to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients needed to maximize your nutritional health!

To further expound on your interest in flax, I might be more concerned about the "phytoestrogen" content of flaxseeds and ground flaxseeds than the blood vessel dilation potential. The term "phytoestrogen" refers to a class of plant compounds that have mild estrogen-like effects when consumed. The "lignans" found in flax seeds are considered phytoestrogens. Research is ongoing in this area to better understand the impact of these phytoestrogens on hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer. Until more is known, it would be most prudent to limit or avoid intake of phytoestrogen-containing foods as they may contribute to growth of estrogen-sensitive cancers. It should be noted that most flax oil products (whether in liquid form or in gelcaps) do not contain lignans unless clearly stated on the label of the product. Thus, individuals seeking the omega 3 benefits of flax but trying to avoid lignans could consider regular use of flax oil.

Dena Reagan, MS, RD, LD

Clinical Dietitian

Breast, Genitourinary and Urology Clinics

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Posted: 30 Jan 2006 01:48 PM
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