Washington: A new study has found that plant compounds, phytoestrogens, lower not only the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, but also the mortality risk.
The most important type of phytoestrogens in Western diet are lignans, which are contained in seeds, particularly flaxseeds, as well as in wheat and vegetables.
In the bowel, these substances are turned into enterolactone, which is absorbed by the mucous tissue and which was determined by the Heidelberg researchers as a biomarker in the patient’s blood.
From 2002 to 2005, the DKFZ researchers headed by Prof. Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude took blood samples of 1,140 women who had been diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer.
After a mean observation time of six years, they related enterolactone levels to clinical disease progression.
Compared to the study subjects with the lowest enterolactone levels, the women with the highest blood levels of this biomarker had an approximately 40 percent lower mortality risk.
When the scientists additionally took account of the incidence of metastasis and secondary tumours, they obtained a similar result: Women with the highest enterolactone levels also had a lower risk for such an unfavourable disease progression.
“We now have first clear evidence showing that lignans lower not only the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, but also the mortality risk,” said Chang-Claude.