A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.
- Mushrooms contain compounds that have been linked to lowering the risk of a range of cancers.
- Compounds such as lectins and other unique proteins, glucans and other special carbohydrates, all have the potential to inhibit cancer formation and growth.
- Three population studies show that women who eat an average of one button mushroom a day have half the risk of breast cancer than women who do not eat mushrooms.
- A meta-analysis of the link between mushroom eating and breast cancer confirms that there is a definite link, with mushroom consumption reducing the risk of the cancer.
- There is ongoing research to determine if fresh mushrooms and mushroom extracts can help to lower the risk of cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer.
Mushrooms help fight cancer
Like many people, you probably eat for both enjoyment and to protect your health against future disease. Fruits and vegetables help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. It is not surprising that mushrooms have also been found to play their part in lowering cancer risk, even though they are neither fruit nor vegetable.
How do mushrooms help to protect against breast cancer?
The mushroom contains compounds that suppress two enzymes called aromatase. Aromatase converts the hormone androgen to estrogen, which in turn can promote the development of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women. Currently, aromatase inhibitors are being used in the treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. An Australian study showed that two carbohydrates found in mushrooms inhibited breast cancer cell growth in the laboratory.
Potential to reduce prostate cancer risk too
The enzyme 5 alpha reductase converts the hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone and is thought to play a role in the development of prostate cancer and benign prostate enlargement in men. The research on animal cells suggests that compounds in mushrooms inhibit this enzyme, therefore having a potential role in the protection against prostate cancer.