Flaxseed Bioactive Compounds and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Curr Oncol Rep. 2018 Jun 5;20(8):59. doi: 10.1007/s11912-018-0704-z.


Purpose of review: Flaxseed and its bioactive components have been associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer incidence and progression. This review aims to summarize recent research regarding the role of flaxseed and each of its major dietary bioactive components in reducing colorectal cancer.

Recent findings: In both human and animal model experiments, flaxseed consumption had beneficial effects on colon physiology associated with reduction in colorectal cancer risk or occurrence. Considered separately, each of flaxseed's major bioactive components, including fiber, alpha-linolenic acid, lignans, and other phytochemicals, is also associated with decreased risk of colonic neoplasms and regulation of cell growth through several potential mechanisms. Collectively, experimental data suggests that consumption of flaxseed and/or its bioactive components may reduce colorectal cancer risk by a variety of mechanisms. Future studies should focus on the mechanisms by which whole flaxseed can prevent colorectal cancer.

Keywords: Alpha-linolenic acid; Colorectal cancer; Dietary bioactive compounds; Fiber; Flaxseed; Lignan.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Flax*
  • Humans
  • Lignans / pharmacology
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry*
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lignans
  • Phytochemicals
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid