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Food & Health : Agri. & Environ. Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Flaxseed may protect against radiation harm
By Ben Wasserman
Dec 4, 2008 - 8:35:32 AM

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Thursday Dec 4, 2008 ( -- A new study suggests that patients who are going to receive radiotherapy may be better off incorporating some flaxseed flour in their diet because flaxseed lignans seem to be protective against damages from radiation.

Flaxseed has high contents of omega 3 fatty acids and lignans that are anti-oxidative and the current study was meant to examine whether they prevent thoracic X-ray radiation therapy (XRT)-induced pneumonopathy.

For the study, researchers from Lee J. C. and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center fed mice flaxseed or isocaloric control diet for three weeks and then given 13.5 Gy thoracic X-ray radiation therapy.

The radiation induced lung injuries including lipid peroxidation, lung edema and inflammation were assessed at 24 hours of receiving the therapy and then at four months late lung damages such as inflammation and fibrosis were evaluated again.

The researchers found flaxseed lignans blunted generation of reactive oxygen species in vitro, which result from radiation in a dose dependent manner.

Intake of flaxseed also reduced expression of lung injury biomarkers at 24 hours following radiation and oxidative lung damage at three weeks after radiation.

Additionally, flaxseed fed mice experienced a decrease in lung fibrosis and inflammatory cell influx into lungs at four months after radiation.

However, the flaxseed supplementation did not interfere with responses of lung cancer cells to thoracic x-ray radiation therapy.

The researchers concluded that “these data suggest that dietary flaxseed may be clinically useful as an agent to increase the therapeutic index of thoracic XRT by increasing the radiation tolerance of lung tissues.”

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