Dietary flaxseed enhances the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on the growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer (mcf-7) in nude mice

Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Nov 15;10(22):7703-11. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-04-1130.


Purpose: This study determined the effect of 10% dietary flaxseed (FS) and tamoxifen (TAM), alone and in combination, on the growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer (MCF-7) in athymic mice with or without 17beta-estradiol (E2) supplementation.

Experimental design: Ovariectomized mice received injection with MCF-7 cells, were implanted with an E2 pellet (1.7 mg), and fed the basal diet (BD). When tumor reached approximately 40 mm2, the E2 implant was removed, and mice were randomized to the following groups and maintained at either low (E2 pellet removed) or high E2 level (new E2 pellet implanted) for 6 weeks: (a) positive control with new E2 pellet, fed BD, (b) negative control with no E2 implant, fed BD, (c) TAM group with TAM pellet (5 mg) implant, fed BD, (d) FS group fed 10% FS, (e) FS+TAM group with TAM implant, fed 10% FS. Tumor growth was monitored weekly.

Results: At low E2 level, FS regressed the pretreatment tumor size by 74%. TAM regressed tumor initially but later induced an increase so that the tumor size was finally similar to the pretreatment size. A tumor regression >53% was induced by FS+TAM than by TAM alone. At high E2 level, FS, TAM, and FS+TAM inhibited the tumor growth by 22, 41, and 50%, respectively, compared with the positive control. Decreased tumor size was attributable to reduced tumor cell proliferation and increased apoptosis.

Conclusions: FS inhibited the growth of human estrogen-dependent breast cancer and strengthened the tumor-inhibitory effect of TAM at both low and high E2 levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Body Weight
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Diet
  • Estradiol / therapeutic use
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Models, Chemical
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Seeds
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Uterus / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Estrogens
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Tamoxifen
  • Estradiol