Health A-Z Archives: Flaxseed oil or Fish oil

FlaxseedFish Market


There has recently been a rumour that flax oil can cause prostate cancer or inflammation and it has had many people in a tizz. So I have spent some hours investigating where this rumour started and it seems to come from a ‘doctor’ Newstaedter, who calls himself a doctor of homeopathy, acupuncture and oriental medicine. Without going into his philosophy and health guidelines which are a bit wonky any way, I find the photo of him appears to indicate that he is battling with his health. He seems to be suffering from a skin problem and has dark rings under his eyes; assuming that most people would put their best picture on the web, this is a bit alarming;

A man clearly in ill health dispensing health information? I should not be too shocked as this seems to be the norm. Overweight people write best sellers on weight and health regularly. What amazes me is that people actually give these ‘gurus’ money for their advice and products and buy their wares.

There are only 13 references to ‘flax and prostate’ on the Google search engine and 2-3 that contain a reference to flax causing prostate problems lead back to the above doctor. Most of the other references actually offer extensive research where flax oil has been proven to reduce or prevent cancer in many forms including of the prostate.

One reference mentions Dr Dean Ornish, but you can check out his website he actually prescribes 1 gram of flax oil daily.

Is there a vested interest?

So my conclusion on this is that someone somewhere wants to upset the huge flax market and promote fish oil products, either because they have vested interest in fish oil products, are simply ignorant or have some other motivation. The internet can be confusing as often people promote themselves with qualifications or quote information that is conflicting. I have found that it is Important to dig deeper and find the truth. The internet is a great place to do research as long as you check out all aspects of the issue you are researching and check out the credentials and lifestyle of the site owner. We may often take information from a ‘doctor’ assuming that because of their qualifications they own the right to knowledge, but surely the correct pedigree for information would be yes training and studies but also unsurpassed.

So is there any truth in this rumor? I would say categorically not! Unless of course the flax oil they are using is not guaranteed organic, cold pressed, freshly extracted, nitrogen flushed and bottled in fluoridated bottles. Fluoridated bottles prevent xenoestrogens from the plastic being leached into the oil. Bottling in any type of plastic could result in this happening and these xenoestrogens are carcinogenic. This means they encourage growth of cancer cells in any part of the body including the prostate.

If the flax oil is not Nitrogen flushed (which dispels oxygen keeping the oil fresh) the oil becomes rancid easily and rancid oil of any kind is carcinogenic. If flax oil is heated above 38oC it can also become carcinogenic.

Using organic flax seed from which to press the oil also means that there is no risk of you being exposed to toxic pesticide and fertilizer residues. The only Flax oil that I can categorically state that complies with all these issues i.e. guaranteed cold pressed not above 38oC, nitrogen flushed, pressed from organic seed and packed in a fluoridated bottle is the Aim blend Aimega.

Yes you may be able to buy a cheaper oil, but at what price to your health. Flax oil is extremely beneficial to you health, just make sure it is the right stuff! One of the reasons that fish oil is promoted by some is because of the beneficial effect on our health of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid). These are fatty acids which are made in our bodies from the essential fatty acid Linolenic acid also known as alpha Linolenic acid or Omega 3.

How your body works with EFAs

This is a normal metabolic pathway that takes place in the body unless you are one of maybe 2% of people who lack the ability to do this. We know that the body makes natural cortisone which is essential for our bodies to function correctly, yet cortisone taken from another source in medication has some serious side effects. This could be the case too with taking in fish oil as a supplement as you are not allowing the body to make the EPA and DHA, which it is designed to do.

When you take EPA and DHA from a fish oil sources you are by passing this metabolic pathway and no research appears to have been done that indicates what the long term effect is on humans. It makes no sense to buy a substance that  is made by the body for free.

Surely if we are meant to do that we would be best off eating human organs like the adrenal glands which are exceptionally high in these two fatty acids (DHA and EPA). Besides which fish oils are processed by mincing the whole fish and then extracting the oil with chemical solvents and heat. This will create carcinogenic substances and on top of that when you buy these products they are encapsulated and there is no way of knowing whether they are still fresh or rancid.

Flax as a historical prescription

Then flax oil has been prescribed for prostate problems for hundreds of years, I have personally seen how flax oil has benefited thousands of people and dozens with prostate problems. Flax oil has been used to promote health as far back as 650BC.

Hippocrates in the 5th century mentioned flax to relieve inflamed mucous membranes and for abdominal relief. Flax oil has a history and pedigree unsurpassed by any fish oils. (see separate info on Benefits of flax oil)

My family and I including my 3 daughters and 2 year old grandson and husband Mark will continue using AIMega as we have for many years. We know that The Natural Way diet, Barleylife and flax oil have resulted in unprecedented health for us as a family (no medical bill due to illness in nearly 20 years).

From the internet I used to grind flax seed in a coffee grinder and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons onto my cereal in the morning. I enjoyed its nutty flavour and also the fact that it may be the best vegetarian source of omega 3 oil.  I preferred ground flax seed to the oil for its phytochemicals and fiber.  I kept a few days supply of ground seed in the freezer.

I  heard recently that Dean Ornish has stopped recommending flax or its oil to men and claims that he never did (not true) and that he always recommended fish oil or eating fatty fish.  He now states that the reason  he does not recommend flaxseed is due to work done by a researcher at the University of Virginia Medical School, which indicated that when cancer cells are present in the prostate, flax can make them more aggressive and increased the likelihood of prostate cancer considerably.

I did a computer-assisted search at  U of Virginia Med School Library and was not able to find any info on flax and prostate cancer.

Mary-Ann’s Comment

This was on one of the sites listed, so I checked out Dr Ornish’s site and he recommends both flax oil capsules (1 gram daily to be exact) and fish oil (seems he wants you to take anything that may be going on the market) So this is clearly just a rumor started by some vindictive fish oil selling opposition and this person is clearly confused.


July 11, 2001:Duke News Service
Duke University
Phone: (919) 684-2823 ~ Fax: (919) 681-5570
Amy Austell Phone: (919) 684-4148 │
LOW-FAT DIET CAN BE PROTECTIVE AGAINST PROSTATE CANCERNote to editors: Wendy Demark-Wahnefried can be contacted at (919) 681-3261 or A photograph of Demark-Wahnefried is available at in the
Medical News Service folder as “Demark-Wahnefried.jpg.”DURHAM
–A low-fat diet supplemented with flaxseed may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, researchers from Duke University Medical in the July issue of Urology.The researchers said dietary fat and fiber can affect hormone levels and may influence cancer progression. Flaxseed is high in fiber and is the richest source of
plant-based, omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that dietary fiber reduces cancer risk, and omega-3 fatty acids also have shown a protective benefit against
cancer. Flaxseed is also a rich source of lignan, a specific family of fiber-related compounds that appear to play a key role in influencing both estrogen and
androgen metabolism.”We thought flaxseed would be the perfect food for prostate cancer patients,” said lead author Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, associate research professor in the department of surgery at Duke. “It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignan. Testosterone may be important in the progression of prostate cancer, and lignan in the flaxseed binds testosterone, so we thought the flaxseed might suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells. By pairing a low-fat diet with the flaxseed supplement, we also thought we could maximize the effect of the omega-3 fatty acids, since studies in animals show that the kind of fat we eat may be important for cancer progression.”The pilot study involved 25 patients with prostate cancer who were awaiting prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate). Baseline levels of prostate-specific
antigen (PSA), testosterone, free androgen index and total serum cholesterol were determined at the beginning of the study. The tumors of those on the diet were then
matched with 25 historic cases, equal in age, race, PSA level at diagnosis and biopsy Gleason sum (a scoring system used to grade prostate tumors) to compare tumor
progression and biomarkers after the dietary intervention.The men were on the low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet for an average of 34 days. Finely ground flaxseed was used in the study because, in its natural form, flaxseed is a pointy, tough seed that can puncture the intestines when consumed in the amounts used in this study (three rounded tablespoons a day). The ground flaxseed in the study was vacuum-packed (ground flaxseed can quickly go rancid) and had added emulsifiers for ease of mixing.The men were instructed to sprinkle the flaxseed on their cereal or mix it into juices, yogurt or applesauce. Researchers reported good compliance with the diet and said it was tolerated well.At the end of the study, the researchers observed that the men on the diet had significant decreases in cholesterol, and both total and free testosterone. While
there was a decrease in testosterone levels, they noted that none of the participants in the study suffered decreased libido or sexual dysfunction. There was a
trend toward a decrease in PSA levels in men with early-stage prostate cancer (Gleason sums of six or less), but in men with advanced prostate cancer (Gleason
sums of more than six) PSA levels continued to rise.”It’s not surprising that a diet therapy that was only taken for an average of 34 days had little effect on men with aggressive disease,” Demark-Wahnefried said. “But what we did see was that for the men on the diet, their tumor cells did not divide as quickly and
there was a greater rate of apoptosis (tumor cell death) in this group.”With such a short-term dietary intervention, the researchers said they did not expect to see a difference in tumor biology between the diet-treated patients and
the control patients, but were encouraged by the lower proliferation rates and significantly higher rates of apoptotic cell death. However, they said the results
should be interpreted with caution, stressing that randomized controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm the results of the pilot study. Research on mice
models is currently under way, and preliminary results support the findings in humans.
  • Contains
  • Contains no
  • Heated
    and processed



  • Cold pressed. Protects against Cancer.


  • Contains
    only 2 derivates. Usually
    high inheavy metals like mercury
  • High in Omega-3.Can make
    all 5 derivatives    Contains
    no heavy metals
  • Contains
    no vitamin E needed for       processing Omega-3


  • High
    in vitamin E
  • Can
    be high in vitamin D – Toxic and     implicated in Down’s
  • High in Beta carotene. Non toxic
  • No vit D but helps body to make non toxic form
  • Could overdose
  • Body makes only what is needed


  • Fish-oil side effect  out weight any
    remote benefit.





  • No side effect from Flax; only huge
  • Namelylower cholesterol, improved immune
    function, impoved hormonal function, lower BP, lower
    menstrual bleeding,better brain function, softer skin,
    balanced blood sugar and weight, improved digestion and
    bowel function, improved thyroid,heart, etc…
Contains low ligrans.Recently
included (From early 80’s) so no long term studies on human
in lignans showed recently to lower rates of hormones ,
dependant cancers like breast, endometrial and prostate cancerBeen used for centuries on thousands of people.
Deteriorates rapidly
after death, must be consumed immediately
Can last up to 6 months
if genuinely pressed and correctly packed.
sources high in EPA & DHA eyeballs, adrenal, glands,
testes and Chinese snake oil
DHA made by body is as fresh as you can get

A staggering 10.3 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year worldwide, making cancer a top public health priority. The right diet can be a powerful weapon against the development of this potentially deadly disease. Expert reports indicate that diet changes alone may prevent 30 to 40%, or 3 to 4 million cases a year.

Studies conducted by Dr. Stephen Cunnane of the University of Toronto showed that flax prevents the growth of new cancer cells. According to Dr. James Duke of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, flaxseed contains 27 identifiable cancer preventive compounds.

Recent studies show that Omega-3 oils found in flax (linolenic acid) may kill human cancer cells in tissue culture without harming the normal cells. Breast, lung and prostate cancer cell lines were studied.

Lignans are plant compounds called phytoestrogens that act like a weak form of estrogen in humans. It has been well established that populations with high fiber diets and high intakes of phytoestrogens such as lignans, tend to have lower rates of hormone-dependant cancers, such as breast, endometrial and prostate cancers.1

Research evidence suggests that lignans may fight off chemicals responsible for initiating tumors and block estrogen receptors, which may reduce colon cancer risk. According to the research of Dr. Lillian Thompson of the University of Toronto, flaxseeds are the richest source of plant lignans and contain 75 to 800 times more than wheat bran, oats, millet, rye, legumes, soybeans and 66 other plant foods tested.2

At the December 2000 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Professors Lillian Thompson, from the University of Toronto, and Paul Goss, from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, stated “for the first time, it has been shown that flaxseed has considerable potential in reducing tumor growth in humans with breast cancer comparable to the effects seen with preoperative Tamoxifen.” 3

Studies conducted by COSC’s Research and Development team showed that carefully monitored germination of flaxseed significantly enhanced the mammalian lignan content found in ungerminated flaxseed.

Some studies have shown that beta-carotene may be an effective ally against prostate cancer. A recent study found men with the lowest level of beta-carotene in their blood were at the greatest risk of developing this cancer.

This is a reply from one doctors site (Dr Stoll, a medical doctor) when asked about the rumour that flax can cause some problems

JT, I believe where this info is coming from is tainted or spoiled flax oil. This I have read and believe to be true. But in my opinion and everything I have read good flax oil is going to do nothing but help you. I have had nothing but good results from it and have taken it for years. Most men that I know who have taken it for awhile there prostrate problems have all but disappeared. Flax oil does spoil and it needs to be frozen until you start using it. I have never taken capsules of flax oil because of this reason. Hope this helps some. Good luck

I would like to see any research that shows this when care is taken to assure freshness. ANY rancidity of ANY oil is a cancer risk.

Dr Stoll (MD)

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