Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Study Finds Mushrooms Slash Breast Cancer Risk

New research has concluded that regular consumption of mushrooms can decrease a woman's risk of breast cancer by two thirds.

Scientists from the University of Western Australia in Perth conducted a study on 2,018 Chinese women, half of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After adjusting for known cancer risk factors such as obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and lower education level, the researchers found that women who ate at least 10 grams of button mushrooms per day were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. Women who ate dried mushrooms regularly also significantly reduced their risk of developing the disease, although not by as much.

The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.

This is not the first time scientists have found evidence of mushrooms' cancer-fighting properties. Numerous studies have found that mushrooms may suppress the body's production of the sex hormone estrogen, much like the breast cancer drugs known as aromatose inhibitors. High estrogen levels are a well-known risk factor for breast cancer. Mushrooms have also been found to strengthen the body's immune function, stimulating the all-important T-cells and killer cells, and thus block tumor development. Mushroom extract has been shown to stop the growth of breast cancer cells, sparking an ongoing study evaluating whether taking mushroom extract twice per month can prevent a recurrence of the disease.

Researchers believe that certain mushrooms work by blocking the action of an enzyme known as AKT, which plays a role in controlling cell growth. Prior studies have suggested that mushrooms hamper the activity of skin, lung and prostate cancer cells. They reduce accelerated cell growth and block the development of blood vessels that feed tumors.

Some of the most medicinal of the mushroom family include reishi, shiitake, Fu-Ling, Turkey Tail, Oyster mushrooms, cordyceps, and maitake. These can be obtained individually in supplement form or in combination.