Lilian Thompson

Lilian Thompson PhD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Nutritional Sciences
Lilian U. Thompson
Contact Info
T: (416) 978-3523
F: (416) 978-5882
Medical Sciences Building, 5th Floor, Room 5265
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON, M5S 1A8
Not accepting new students
PhD (major Food Science, minor Biochemistry), University of Wisconsin (Madison), USA
MSc (Agricultural Chemistry-Food Technology), University of the Philippines
BSc (Chemistry), Mapua Institute of Technology, Philippines
Professional Memberships
Canadian Nutrition Society
American Society for Nutrition
American Association for Cancer Research
Institute of Food Technologists


Research Synopsis

Long-term goal is to elucidate the components of plant foods responsible for their health benefits and adverse effects, as well as the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of their action. Research is focused on the role of phytochemicals (i.e., phytoestrogens: lignans and isoflavones), 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. Food models such as flaxseed, soy, and sesame seed are used. 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.

Publications and Awards

View PubMed search of this faculty member's recent publications.

Recent Publications

Referred Journals:

Mason, J.K., Klaire, S., Kharotia, S., Wiggins, A.K., Thompson, L.U.. α-linolenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, alone and combined with trastuzumab, reduce HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cell growth but differentially regulate HER2 signaling pathways. Lipids Health Dis.14(1):91, 2015

Wiggins, A.K., Kharotia. S., Mason, J,.K., Thompson, L.U.. α-Linolenic acid reduces growth of both triple negative and luminal breast cancer cells in high and low estrogen environments. Nutr Cancer. 67(6):1001-9 2015 doi: 10.1080/01635581.2015.1053496.

Wiggins, A.K., Mason, .J.K., Thompson, L.U.. Growth and gene expression differ over time in alpha-linolenic acid treated breast cancer cells. Exp Cell Res.10;333(1):147-54,2015, doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2015.02.020.

Mason, J.K., Fu, M., Chen, J., Thompson, L.U. Flaxseed oil enhances the effectiveness of trastuzumab in reducing the growth of HER2-overexpressing human breast tumors (BT-474).J Nutr Biochem. 26(1):16-23,2015 doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.08.001. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

Mason, J.K., Kharotia, S., Wiggins, A.K., Kitson, A.P., Chen, J., Bazinet, R.P., Thompson, L.U.,. 17β-estradiol increases liver and serum docosahexaenoic acid in mice fed varying levels of α-linolenic acid. Lipids. 49(8):745-56,2014 doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3913-8. Epub 2014 Jun 10.

Mason JK, Thompson LU. Flaxseed and its lignan and oil components: Can they play a role in reducing the risk of and improving the treatment of breast cancer? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 39(6):663-78,2014 doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0420. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

Sacco, S.M., Chen, J., Ganss, B., Thompson, L.U., Ward, W.E. Flaxseed enhances the beneficial effect of low-dose estrogen therapy at reducing bone turnover and preserving bone microarchitecture in ovariectomized rats. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 39(7):801-10,2014 doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0417. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

McCann, S.E., Edge, S.B., Hicks, D.G., Thompson, L.U., Morrison, C.D., Fetterly, G., Andrews, C., Clark, K., Wilton, J., Kulkarni, S.. A pilot study comparing the effect of flaxseed, aromatase inhibitor, and the combination on breast tumor biomarkers. Nutr Cancer.66(4):566-75, 2014. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.894097. Epub 2014 Mar 26.

Mason, J.K., Fu, M.H., Chen, J., Yu, Z., Thompson, L.U. Dietary flaxseed-trastuzumab interactive effects on the growth of HER2-overexpressing human breast tumors (BT-474). Nutr. Cancer 65:451-9, 2013

Boucher, B.A., Cotterchio, M., Anderson, L.N., Kreiger, N., Kirsh, V.A., Thompson, L.U. Use of isoflavone supplements is associated with reduced postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Int. J. Cancer. 132:1439-50, 2013

Sacco, S.M., Jiang, J.M., Thompson, L.U., Ward, W.E. Flaxseed does not enhance the estrogenic effect of low-dose estrogen therapy on markers of uterine health in ovariectomized rats. J. Med. Food. 15:846-50, 2012

McCann , S.E., Hootman, K.C., Weaver, A.M., Thompson, L.U., Morrison, C., Hwang, H., Edge, S.B., Ambrosone, C.B., Horvath, P.J., Kulkarni, S.A. Dietary intakes of total and specific lignans are associated with clinical breast tumor characteristics.  J. Nutr. 142:91-8, 2012

Truan, J., Chen, J.M., Thompson, L.U. Comparative effects of sesame seed lignan and flaxseed lignan in reducing the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen in athymic mice. Nutr. Cancer 64:65-71, 2012

Sacco, S.M., Thompson, L.U., Ganss, B., Ward, W.E. Accessibility of (3)-H secoisolariciresinol diglycoside lignan metabolites in skeletal tissue of ovariectomized rats. J. Med. Food 14:1208-14, 2011
Hung, A., Hamidi, M., Riczantseva, E., Thompson, L.U., Tile, L., Tomlinson, G., Stewart, B., Cheung, A.M. Validation of a calcium assessment tool in postmenopausal Canadian women. Maturitas 69:168-172, 2011

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

Chen, J., Saggar, J.K, Corey, P, Thompson, L.U. 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

Ly, A.,  Lee, H., Chen, J., Sie, K., Renlund, R., Medline, A., Sohn, K., Croxford, R., Thompson, L.U., Kim, Y.I. Effect of maternal and postweaning folic acid supplementation on mammary tumor risk in the offspring. Cancer Res. 71:988-997, 2011 

Thompson, L.U., Maningat, C.C., Woo, K,, Seib,P,A. In vitro digestion of RS4-type  resistant wheat and potato starches, and fermentation of their indigestible fractions. Cereal Chem. 88:72-79, 2011

Mason, J.K., Chen, J., Thompson, L.U. Flaxseed oil-trastuzumab interaction in breast cancer. Food Chem. Toxicol. 46:2223-6, 2010

Saggar, J.K., Chen, J., Corey, P., Thompson, L.U. 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, J.S., Chen, J.M., Thompson, L.U. Flaxseed oil reduces the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 34:1414-1421, 2010

Klein, M.A., Nahin, R.L., Messina, M.J., Rader, J.I., Thompson, L.U., Badger, T.M., Dwyer, J.T., Kim, Y.S., Pontzer, C.H., Starke-Reed, P.E., Weaver, C.M. Guidance from an NIH workshop on designing, implementing, and reporting clinical studies of soy interventions. J. Nutr. 140:1192S-1204S, 2010

Saarinen, N.M., Thompson, L.U. 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

Saggar, J.K., Chen, J.M., Corey, P., Thompson, L.U.  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

McCann, S.E., Thompson, L.U., Nie ,J, Dorn, J., Trevisan, M., Shields, P.G., Ambrosone, C.B., Edge, S.B., Li, H.F., Kasprzak, C., Freudenheim, J.L. 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


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:

Wiggins, A.K.A, Mason, J.K., Thompson, L.U. Beneficial influence of diets enriched with flaxseed and flaxseed oil on cancer. In Cancer Chemoprevention and Treatment by Diet Therapy, (Cho W, ed.) Springer, New York, N.Y., 2013

Mason, J.K., Wiggins, A.K.A., Thompson, L.U. Plant and marine sources of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and cancer prevention. In Inflammation and Cancer: Mechanisms and Dietary Approaches for Cancer Prevention (Kong T, ed), Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 2013

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.


Honours and Awards

  • College scholarships
  • National Science Development Board Fellowship
  • Fulbright Fellowship
  • Scientific Advisory Board Member, Nordforsk (research granting agency that covers all Nordic countries)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Filipino Center
  • International recognition for research on flaxseed, lignans, and breast cancer