Eat Flaxseeds to Lower Androgen Levels
Who eats flaxseeds? If you don’t maybe you should! The health benefits are numerous ranging from heart health, digestive health, weight control and decreasing risk of certain cancers. Now a study has showed that eating flax seeds may help lower androgen levels significantly in women with PCOS. Read on to learn more about the study. And then run out and buy a bag of these little seeds!
We know that PCOS is associated with high androgen levels. Previous studies have shown that lignans in flaxseeds lower androgens in men with prostate cancer. So a study was done to investigate the hormonal effects of flaxseeds in women with PCOS. The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study
The patient was a 31-year-old female who was newly diagnosed with PCOS. She had yet to begin any sort of pharmacotherapy and expressed an interest in flaxseed supplementation after hearing about an NIH-funded phase II clinical trial that was being conducting among men with prostate cancer (CA85740). The patient did not take any other medications during the study.
The patient took 30 grams of ground flaxseed a day for 4 months. This is the equivalent to ~ 4 T. She started with a
dose of 10 grams for the first 3-days, 20 grams for the next 3-days and onto a dose of 30 grams/day for the duration of the 4-month study period. This dosing helps to minimize the gastrointestinal discomfort associated with this high fiber food. Given that flaxseed is usually not consumed alone but is mixed into various foods, the patient was provided the patient with a list of foods recommended by previous study participants, such as mixing it into applesauce, yogurt, juices, grits, oatmeal or sprinkling it onto cereal. The patient also received log sheets and was asked to record the dose consumed each day, i.e., all of the dose, less than the full dose but at least ¾ of it, less than ¾’s of the full dose but at least ½ of it, less than ½ of the dose but at least ¼ of it or less than ¼ of the dose. The patient also was contacted weekly throughout the 4-month period to assess if there were questions or problems, and to review adherence.
During a four month period, the patient consumed 83% of the flaxseed dose. Heights, weights, and fasting blood samples taken at baseline and 4-month follow-up indicated the following values:
*note: the first number is the baseline and the 2nd number was 4 months later
BMI (36.0 vs. 35.7m/kg2);
insulin (5.1 vs. 7.0 uIU/ml);
total serum testosterone (150 ng/dl vs. 45 ng/dl);
free serum testosterone (4.7 ng/dl vs. 0.5 ng/dl); and
% free testosterone (3.1% vs. 1.1%). T
The patient also reported a decrease in hirsutism at the completion of the study period.
The patients androgens (all 3 scores) deceased significantly. Her weight did not change much as I’m assuming she was not counseled on any kind of diet or exercise as it was not mentioned in the study. Her insulin levels went up slightly – perhaps because she was told to mix the flaxseeds with applesauce, yogurt, juices, grits, oatmeal or sprinkling it onto cereal? (these would not be my suggestions!)
Keep in mind that this was only ONE patient! But the results were quite impressive. This is an example of why more studies need to be done in women with PCOS. In the meantime, it makes sense to increase your intake of flaxseeds.
Keep in mind that flaxseeds need to be ground and refrigerated in order to get the benefits.
One more comment … I know some women with PCOS are concerned with foods that are thought to be “estro-genic”. Lignans are similar to the female hormone estrogen – so similar, in fact, that they compete with estrogen for a part in certain chemical reactions. As a result, natural estrogens seem to become less powerful in the body. Some researchers believe that lignans may be able to slow down the progress of certain breast cancers and other types of cancers that need estrogen to thrive. And since they are helping natural estrogens be less powerful in the body, they should have an effect of raising estrogen in PCOS.
Stay tuned for another blog post on flaxseeds!
Do you eat flaxseeds? If so, what do you put them in?
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.