Randomized Phase IIB Trial of the Lignan Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside in Premenopausal Women at Increased Risk for Development of Breast Cancer

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020 Jul;13(7):623-634. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0050. Epub 2020 Apr 20.


We conducted a multiinstitutional, placebo-controlled phase IIB trial of the lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) found in flaxseed. Benign breast tissue was acquired by random periareolar fine needle aspiration (RPFNA) from premenopausal women at increased risk for breast cancer. Those with hyperplasia and ≥2% Ki-67 positive cells were eligible for randomization 2:1 to 50 mg SDG/day (Brevail) versus placebo for 12 months with repeat bio-specimen acquisition. The primary endpoint was difference in change in Ki-67 between randomization groups. A total of 180 women were randomized, with 152 ultimately evaluable for the primary endpoint. Median baseline Ki-67 was 4.1% with no difference between arms. Median Ki-67 change was -1.8% in the SDG arm (P = 0.001) and -1.2% for placebo (P = 0.034); with no significant difference between arms. As menstrual cycle phase affects proliferation, secondary analysis was performed for 117 women who by progesterone levels were in the same phase of the menstrual cycle at baseline and off-study tissue sampling. The significant Ki-67 decrease persisted for SDG (median = -2.2%; P = 0.002) but not placebo (median = -1.0%). qRT-PCR was performed on 77 pairs of tissue specimens. Twenty-two had significant ERα gene expression changes (<0.5 or >2.0) with 7 of 10 increases in placebo and 10 of 12 decreases for SDG (P = 0.028), and a difference between arms (P = 0.017). Adverse event incidence was similar in both groups, with no evidence that 50 mg/day SDG is harmful. Although the proliferation biomarker analysis showed no difference between the treatment group and the placebo, the trial demonstrated use of SDG is tolerable and safe.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Butylene Glycols / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Flax / chemistry
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucosides / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Lignans / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Premenopause*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Butylene Glycols
  • Glucosides
  • Lignans
  • secoisolariciresinol diglucoside