Mushrooms Offer Protection Against Cancer
Several types of cancers are hormone-sensitive, meaning they use female/male hormones to develop and metastasize. Most breast and prostate cancers are hormone-sensitive. In an attempt to stop the progression of cancer, pharmaceutical companies have designed drugs which slow down or block the effects of these hormones. These drugs stop female/male hormones from reaching the cancer cells. Tamoxifen is one such drug in this category. Aromatase inhibitors are another class of drugs which are used as chemotherapy agents. These drugs inhibit the enzyme aromatase from converting androgens into estrogen. This type of therapy is used in many menopausal women with breast cancer. When hormone levels are not sufficient enough (menopause) to fuel the growth of these hormone-sensitive tumors, they devise an infamous plan to produce their own. Thus, the aromatase inhibitors keep estrogen levels low by preventing cancer cells from producing more estrogen. After many years of research, scientists discovered several foods that also contain significant anti-aromatase properties. Consuming these foods on a daily basis could potentially stop the progression of cancer cells early in its development.
According to Dr. Michael Greger's above video, "70% of breast cancer cells synthesize estrogen themselves - using an enzyme called aromatase, - which converts testosterone to estrogen...so by the time you're on chemo [with aromatase inhibitors] it can be too late." For this reason, consuming a diet rich in aromatase inhibitors offers powerful protection against developing cancer three or more times a day.
The vegetables that were found to reduce aromatase activity included bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, celery, green onions, spinach and mushrooms. These vegetables reduced activity by about 20%, except for mushrooms. Mushrooms inhibited the enzyme by a whopping 60-65%. Portobello, white button and baby white button mushrooms were found to have the strongest anti-aromatase activity. Just one mushroom a day was linked to a 64% reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman's website offers additional information regarding the many benefits of eating mushrooms. As reported by Dr. Fuhrman, the phytochemicals in mushrooms enhances several different types of immune cells which "attack and destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells." Fuhrman continues by saying, "Consumption of mushrooms does not only protect against breast cancer. Mushrooms contain specialized lectins that recognize cancer cells, and prevent the cells from growing and dividing. In addition, white, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, and reishi mushrooms each contain a number of bioactive compounds with the potential for anti-cancer activity. These mushroom phytochemicals have anti-angiogenic, anti-proliferative, and other anti-cancer effects, which have been studied in relation to stomach, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers."
To summarize, eating mushrooms:
- Enhances the immune system
- Reduces the enzyme aromatase which increases hormones that fuel hormone-sensitive cancers
- Prevents DNA damage
- Slows cancer cell growth and programs cancer cell death
- Inhibits angiogenesis
- Reduces inflammation
Adding mushrooms to our diet is easy as well as delicious! Mushrooms are very versatile and are a wonderful replacement for meat in any recipe. Enhancing your immune system and fighting cancer begins in the produce aisle of your local grocery store, so be sure to toss mushrooms into your shopping cart next time you go to the store!
For additional information on cancer, click on the following links: