You're comparing apples and oranges. The phytoestrogens in Flax are called lignans, and the phytoestrogens in soy are called isoflavones.
I would argue that the lignans in flax are conditionally essential for managing some excess estrogen as it blocks specific types of estrogens as there are many types such as estrones, estradiols, etc. I'd consider it conditionally essential for men who are on testoserone therapy for that matter.
If you look at the Gerson Therapy, a natural method for curing cancer discovered in 1928 by Dr. Max Gerson, flax in fact was a major contributor to the suppression and reversal of the malignancy of cells, along with proper liver care.
Flax IMHO is the superior source of Omega 3,6 in 2:1 ratio. The body, unless it has a rare lipid disorder, can use those 2 essential fats to create the rest of the polyunsaturated fats that the body requires for optimal health. But do not denature this fat by putting it around any heat.
It doesn't matter what they are called - they end up producing estrogen -- and actually men need progesterone to balance testosterone if they don't have it guess what it turns into? So no you wouldn't want as a man to continue to use flax -
Phytoestrogen data source:
Thompson, L. U., Boucher, B. A., Lui, Z., Cotterchio, M., and Kreiger, N. 2006. Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans and coumestan. Nutrition and Cancer, 54(2), 184-201.
Cassidy A. Potential risks and benefits of phytoestrogen-rich diets.Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2003 Mar;73(2):120-6.
Ganry O. Phytoestrogens and prostate cancer risk. Prev Med. 2005 Jul;41(1):1-6.
This falls under another misnomer of the FDA -
Round about 8-9 years ago when the bad news about soy was being found out by researchers. These results were slowly leaking out to the public despite agribusiness pressure to the contrary. The major soy growers (Monsanto, and ADM), knowing they had to do something to support their major cash crop, directly and indirectly sponsored “counter-research” to show that soy was good for all the things the real research was finding soy to be bad for.
Due to the inexhaustible funds available to these two, especially Monsanto, their research got a lot more press and air time than the results finding that soy was bad. In statistics, research designed to prove a particular point is called a “self-fulfilling prophecy” in other words the findings are invalid from the get go! Statistics also teaches that no matter how well thought out and done, research findings that do not match observed reality are also invalid. In medicine, clinical experience is the “observed Reality”.
We come to today: in new research meant to find an estrogen replacement for the soy isoflavones that are, as the research reviewers put it, “falling out of favor”, flax and its effects on uterine fibroids are being looked at. Lately, flax has been coming under fire as a source of xenoestrogen and a potential driver of fibroid growth.
This has arisen from the fact that many women who have given up all soy products, most beans, have moved away from farm fields and golf courses (where pesticide and organophosphate fertilizers are used) in order to lower their xenoestrogen exposure and consumption still have their fibroids growing. Some of these women have been put on the drug Lupron and are making no hormones of any type of their own yet their fibroids continue to grow.
The one common factor these gals had was the fact that they were all taking flax oil as a dietary supplement. No one had told them that the lignans from flax are estrogenic! In most all of these cases when the women stopped eating the flax their fibroids stopped growing! This is the clinical experience. This is the observed reality.
Now we look at the flax growing/ selling company research: One meta study ( a review of studies already done), finds that the lignans from flax are a very mild estrogen and will likely act as estrogen blockers in estrogen sensitive tissues and prevent the occurrence of such things as Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Uterine Fibroids, Endometriosis and Ovarian Cysts. Déjà vu:
does anyone remember the study where the isoflavones of soy were said to do the same thing! It turned out not to be so, to the point where the likes of Mayo Clinic now advise their breast cancer survivors to never again eat soy products of any type for fear that it will restart their cancer!
New research showed that women with heightened urinary excretion levels of dietary flax lignans have a lowered incidence of fibroids. The spin is that the more lignans you eat and get rid of, the lower your chances of making your fibroids bigger.
Does that make sense to you? This “explanation” of the study results are about as big a spin as former president Clinton not classifying his affair with Monica as a sexual act. When read through, what the study does show is that the gals who got rid of the lignans most had the least growth in their fibroids! SOOO, what if you did not eat the fax and its lignans at all?
By MedHeadlines • Mar 8th, 2008 • Category: Breast Cancer, Cancer, Diet, FDA, Family, Lifestyle, Medical Research, Obesity, Prevention, Women's Health
A new study published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention demonstrates that women who have a recurrence of breast cancer have almost twice as much estrogen in their blood than those without a recurrence despite treatment with anti-estrogen drugs.
The study’s findings point to the possibility that high levels of estrogen contribute to a recurrence of breast cancer in the same fashion as they contribute to the initial development of the disease. “While this makes sense, there have been only a few small studies that have looked at the link between sex hormones in the blood and cancer recurrence,” said Cheryl L. Rock, Ph.D., the lead author of the study. “This is the largest study to date and the only one to have included women taking agents such as tamoxifen to reduce estrogen’s effect on cancer growth” she added.
The study’s results suggest the need for women who have been treated for breast cancer to do as much as they can to reduce the amount of estrogen in their bodies, such as maintaining a high level of regular exercise and keeping the weight down.
Study participants were taken from a larger dietary intervention trial, Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL), which evaluated 3,088 women who were previously treated for early stage breast cancer, but were cancer-free when they entered the study. Participants in WHEL were randomly divided into 2 groups, one eating normal healthy diet as recommended by the FDA guidelines, and the second group following diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. After a seven year follow up, both groups showed the same rate of breast cancer recurrence. Researchers therefore determined that a normal diet following FDA guidelines is adequate.
The current case-control study involved WHEL participants, 153 of whom were cancer-free and 153 with cancer recurrence. Women were matched for body size, age, ethnicity, tumor size and chemotherapy. Researchers analyzed the levels of estradiol and testosterone, both protein-bound and free.
It was determined that increased levels of estradiol, protein-bound and free-circulating, were associated with significantly higher incidence of breast cancer recurrence. It was also found that women with cancer recurrence, had more than twice the amount of estradiol as compared to those who remained cancer-free. No association was found between breast cancer recurrence and the levels of SHBG and testosterone.
The study was funded by The Walton Family Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health.
Source: American Association for Cancer Research.
But then hey -- there's a whole new world of alt medicine that actually has things that work far better than what we've been told all these years.