Ovarian cancer has the unfortunate distinction of being the most deadly gynaecological cancer known to conventional medical practice today, while also being one of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions (i.e. ‘overdiagnosed’), with five times more women without ovarian cancer ending up having surgery than those with ovarian cancer – a devastating though largely unpublicised fact.

Considering that the present day ‘standard of care’ within conventional medical practice for ovarian cancer is surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy – all of which have deadly side effects (including ironically, cancer and/or increased cancer invasiveness) – shouldn’t safe and effective alternatives be given our full attention? And what are these?

GreenMedInfo.com has indexed and published research on over 30 natural substances with experimentally confirmed potential as anti-ovarian cancer agents. These include common plant phytocompounds such as curcumin (turmeric), genistein (soy, kudzu, red clover), andresveratrol (grapes, red wine, peanuts).

But one that is taking on increased relevance in the fight against women-specific cancer is flaxseed, which has already been extensively researched to reduce breast cancer incidence and even shows some direct anti-tumour properties.

For example, a 2010 study published in the journal Gynecological Oncology found that hens fed with a 10% flaxseed-enriched diet for 1 year had “a significant reduction in late stage ovarian tumours,” as well as “overall better health and reduced mortality.” The study authors concluded; “these findings may provide the basis for a clinical trial that evaluates the efficacy of flaxseed as a chemo-suppressant of ovarian cancer in women.”

More recently, a study published this year in BMC Genomics looked deeper into the possible molecular mechanisms involved in flaxseed’s anti-tumour properties in ovarian cancers. Researchers used a “bioinformatic” approach by analysing the pattern of gene expression in ovarian tumours, identifying which genes are up-regulated when tumours form, and which are suppressed when the hens are fed a 10% flaxseed diet.

Interestingly, they found that “a group of highly up-regulated genes that are involved in the embryonic process of branching morphogenesis [note: embryogenesis and carcinogenesis share similarities],” were reduced 40-60% in flaxseed fed hens.

Moreover, these ‘cancer-associated’ changes in gene expression corresponded with increases in two specific cancer-associated biomolecules — E-cadherin and miR200 – both of which were decreased 60-75% in tumours from flax-fed hens.

The study authors concluded; “We suggest that nutritional intervention with flaxseed targets the pathways regulating branching morphogenesis and thereby alters the progression of ovarian cancer.”

Obviously, this is only preliminary research, and since flaxseed has not gone through validation through randomised, placebo-controlled, human trials required to receive the FDA drug approval needed for conventional oncologists to feel comfortable recommending it for prevention or treatment of ovarian cancer, you won’t hear anyone within the conventional medical establishment recommend or prescribe it. But should that prevent us from using it?

As a food, flaxseed is exceptionally safe and affordable. This alone is reason enough to give it priority consideration when it comes to dietary and/or functional medical interventions for serious conditions that conventional medicine admits it has no effective solutions for.

Lastly, true prevention requires the avoidance of preventable causes of ovarian cancer which include chemicals and incompatible foods. Our ovarian cancer research page lists several known risk factors for ovarian cancer, e.g. cow’s milk, bisphenol A, acrylamide. In short, often the ‘cure’ for cancer is to identify, remove and/or remedy the damage associated with the cause.