advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
A Flaxseed Oil Risk for Men?
Several years ago you indicated that you do not recommend flaxseed oil for men due to potential for prostate tumor growth. Does this research still hold?
A
Answer (Published 10/4/2006)

Freshly ground flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. The human body needs long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA), which are found in salmon and other oily, cold water fish. It can make them from ALA, but the conversion is not efficient and is inhibited further if the diet is rich in the omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in most vegetable oils and processed food.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Men's Health - Many health issues men face, such as prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, may be addressed with proper lifestyle and nutritional supplementation. Find out what is recommended for your health - get a free, personalized vitamin & supplement recommendation from Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor.

As you know, omega-3s are associated with reduced risks of heart attacks and stroke and also may decrease the risk of macular degeneration (a leading cause of age-related blindness) as well as breast, prostate and colon cancers. If you don't like fish (and don't eat the recommended three servings of cold water fish per week), ground flaxseeds can help fill the gap. I recommend buying whole flaxseeds, storing them in the refrigerator and grinding a half-cup at a time in a coffee grinder. You can then sprinkle a tablespoon or two over salads, cereals, or potatoes or add them to baked goods such as breads and muffins.

In addition to providing some omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, which helps prevent constipation, and of lignans, compounds with beneficial estrogen-like effects that offer protection against breast and prostate cancer.

I often recommend supplementing the diet with fish oil as an omega-3 source, but I'm less enthusiastic about flaxseed oil. One tablespoon daily will give you seven to eight grams of ALA, but little of that will be converted to EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil spoils easily so be sure to keep it refrigerated (it should be refrigerated when you buy it). If you notice that it tastes like oil paint, throw it away. Rancidity is oxidation, and oxidized fats are toxic.

Although flaxseed oil seems to be safe for women, I still haven't seen any data showing that it is safe for men. In October 2004, Nutrition Journal published an analysis of nutrition and cancer. One meta-analysis included in that publication reviewed nine studies that revealed an association between flaxseed oil intake or high blood levels of alpha-linolenic acid and increased risk of prostate cancer. The author speculated that the lignans in flaxseed are a major component of its anti-cancer effects and that the lack of lignans in most brands of flaxseed oil may explain why flaxseed oil is not beneficial. Until we know more about the risk flaxseed oil appears to present, I recommend that men avoid it, or at least stick to brands that put the lignans back in. Flaxseeds, however, present no danger to men.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here