Lilian U. Thompson Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Nutritional Sciences

Ph: 416.978.3523
Fax: 416.978.5882

Primary Affiliations:

  • Department of Nutritional Sciences


  • B.Sc. (Chem ), Mapua Institute of Technology, Philippines, 1960;
  • M.Sc. (Agricultural Chemistry-Food Technology), University of the Philippines, 1964;
  • Ph.D. (major Food Science, minor Biochemistry), University of Wisconsin (Madison), U.S.A., 1969

Awards and Recognition:

  • College scholarships; National Science Development Board "Internationally recognized for research on flaxseed, lignans and breast cancer"

  • Fellowship; Fulbright Fellowship; Scientific Advisory Board Member, Nordforsk (research granting agency that covers all Nordic countries)

Professional Memberships:

  • Canadian Nutrition Society
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • Institute of Food Technologists


  • My long term goal is to elucidate the components of plant foods responsible for their health benefits and/or adverse effects and the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms of their action. Research focus is on the role of phytochemicals such as phytoestrogens (lignans and isoflavones) and alpha linolenic acid, and their interactions with drugs, on the development of breast cancer and osteoporosis as well as their metabolism and biovailability. Studies include biochemical, in vitro (cell culture), animal, and clinical (healthy human subjects and patients) experiments and food models such as flaxseed, soy and sesame seed. Results should provide guidance in the design of functional foods and nutraceuticals and in the manipulation of diet for risk reduction and treatment of chronic diseases.

Recent publications:

Refered Journals:

  • Chen J, Saggar JK, Corey P, Thompson LU. Flaxseed cotyledon fraction reduces tumor growth and  sensitizes tamoxifen treatment of human breast cancer xenograft (MCF-7) in athymic mice. Brit J Nutr. 105:339-347, 2011.

  • Chen J, Saggar JK, Ward W, Thompson LU. Effects of flaxseed lignan and oil on bone health of breast tumor bearing mice treated with or without tamoxifen. J Toxicol Env Health  74:757-68, 2011.

  • Mason JK, Chen J, Thompson LU. Flaxseed oil-trastuzumab interaction in breast cancer. Food Chem Toxicol. 46:2223-6, 2010.

  • Saggar JK, Chen J, Corey P, Thompson LU. The effect of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside  and flaxseed oil, alone and in combination, on MCF-7 tumor growth and signaling pathways. Nutr Cancer. 62:533-42, 2010.

  • Truan JS, Chen JM, Thompson LU. Flaxseed oil reduces the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen. Mol Nutr Food Res. 34:1414-21, 2010.

  • Saarinen NM, Thompson LU. Prolonged administration of secoisolariciresinol diglycoside increases lignan excretion and alters lignan tissue distribution in adult male and female rats.  Br J Nutr.  104:833-41, 2010.

  • McCann SE, Thompson LU, Nie J, Dorn J, Trevisan M, et al. Dietary lignan intakes in relation to survival among women with breast cancer: the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 122:229-35, 2010.

  • Klein MA, Nahin RL, Messina MJ, Rader JI, Thompson LU, et al. Guidance from an NIH workshop on designing, implementing, and reporting clinical studies of soy interventions. J Nutr. 140:1192S-1204S, 2010.

  • Saggar JK, Chen JM, Corey P, Thompson LU.  Dietary flaxseed lignan or oil combined with tamoxifen treatment affects MCF-7 tumor growth through estrogen receptor- and growth factor- signaling pathways. Molec Nutr Food Res 54:415-25, 2010.

  • Coulman K, Liu Z, Michaelides J, Quan Hum W, Thompson LU. Fatty acids and lignans in unground whole flaxseed and sesame seed are bioavailable but have minimal antioxidant and lipid lowering effects in postmenopausal women. Molec Nutr Food Res 53:1366-75, 2009.

  • Chen JM, Saggar JK, Corey P, Thompson LU. Flaxseed and pure secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, but not flaxseed hull, reduce human breast tumor growth (MCF-7) in athymic mice.  J Nutr  139 :2061-6,  2009.
  • Power KA, Chen JM, Saarinen NM, Thompson LU. Changes in biomarker of estrogen receptor and growth factor signaling pathways in MCF-7 tumors after short and long term treatment with soy and flaxseed. J Steroid Biochem Molec Biol. 112:13-19, 2008.
  • Saarinen NM, Power KP, Chen JM, Thompson LU. Lignans are accessible to human breast cancer xenografts in athymic mice. Nutr Cancer 60:245-50, 2008.
  • Sacco S,  Chen JM, Power KP, Ward, WE, Thompson LU. Lignan-rich sesame seed negates the tumor-inhibitory effect of tamoxifen but maintains bone health in a postmenopausal athymic mouse model with estrogen-responsive breast tumors. Menopause. 15:171-9, 2008.

  • Cotterchio M, Boucher BA, Kreiger N, Mills CA, Thompson LU. Dietary phytoestrogen intake-lignans and isoflavones- and breast cancer risk (Canada). Cancer Causes Control  19:259-72, 2008.

  • Bergman-Jungestrom M, Thompson LU, Dabrosin C. Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo. Clin Cancer Res 13:1061-67, 2007.

  • Thompson LU, Boucher BA, Cotterchio M, Kreiger N, Liu Z. Dietary phytoestrogens, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestrol, in nonvitamin, nonmineral supplements commonly consumed by women in Canada. Nutr Cancer. 2007;59(2):176-84.

  • Power K, Thompson LU.  Can the combination of flaxseed and its lignans with soy and its isoflavones reduce the growth stimulatory effect of soy and its isoflavones on established breast cancer? Mol Nutr Food Res. 51:845-56, 2007.
  • Thompson LU, Boucher B, Liu Z, Cotterchio MC, Kreiger, N. Phytoestrogen of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones. lignans and coumestans. Nutr Cancer 54: 184-201, 2006.

  • Thanos J, Cotterchio M, Boucher B, Kreiger, N, Thompson LU. Adolescent dietary phytoestrogen intake and breast cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control 17:1253-61, 2006.                          
  • Saarinen N, Power, KP, Chen,JM, Thompson LU. Flaxseed attenuates the tumor growth stimulating effect of soy protein in ovariectomized athymic mice with MCF-7 human breast cancer xenografts. Int J Cancer 119:925-31, 2006.

  • Liu Z, Saarinen NM, Thompson LU. Sesamin is one of the major precursors of mammalian lignans in sesame seed (Sesamum indicum) as observed in vitro and in rats. J Nutr 136:906-12, 2006.

  • Power KS, Saarinen NM, Chen JM, Thompson LU. Mammalian lignans  enterolactone and enterodiol, alone and in combination with the isoflavone genistein, do not promote the growth of MCF-7 xenografts in ovariectomized athymic nude mice. Int J Cancer 118:1316-20. 2006.

  • Thompson LU, Chen JM, Li T, Strasser-Weippl K,  Goss PE.   Dietary   flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clin. Cancer Res.  11:3828-3837, 2005. 


  • Thompson LU, Ward WE. (eds) Optimizing Women’s Health Through Nutrition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 2008, 454 pp.

  • Thompson LU, Ward WE. (eds) Food-Drug Synergy and Safety, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL 2006, 488pp.

  • Thompson LU, Cunnane  SC (eds.) Flaxseed in Human Nutrition, 2nd Ed., AOCS Press, Champaign, ILL, 2003, 458 pp.

Book Chapters:

  • Thompson LU, Mason J. Flaxseed. In Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements (Coates P, ed) Informa Health Care, New York, 2010.

  • Power KP, Thompson LU. The potential roles of seeds and seed bioactives on the prevention and treatment of breast and prostate cancer. In:  Vegetables and Derivatives in Cancer Prevention  (Mutanen M, Pajari AM, eds.) Springer, Heidelberg 2010.

  • Sacco S, Thompson LU. Sesame seed and its lignans: metabolism and bioactivities. In: Sesame: the Genus Sesamum.   (Bedigian D, ed.) Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL   2010.

  • Thompson LU, Ward WE. The need to optimize the health of women. In: Optimizing Women’s Health Through Nutrition. (Thompson LU, Ward WE, eds) CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2008.

  • Thompson LU, Ward WE. Conclusion: What we know, and where do we go from here? In: Optimizing Women’s Health Through Nutrition. (Thompson, L.U., Ward, W.E., eds) CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2008.

  • Thompson LU. Flaxseed, lignans, n-3 fatty acids and drug synergy in the prevention and treatment of cancer. In Food- Drug Synergy and Safety (Thompson LU, Ward WE, eds) CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2005.

  • Ward WE, Thompson LU. Understanding food drug synergy and safety. In Food Drug Synergy and Safety (Thompson LU, Ward WE, eds) CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL,  2005.

  • Power K, Thompson LU. Flaxseed and lignans and their effects on breast cancer. In Nutrition and Cancer Prevention (Atif A. Bradford P, eds) Marcel Dekker Inc, New York, NY, 2005.





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University of Toronto
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