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Mushrooms Fight Breast Cancer

 A surprising result of new cancer research shows that the common white button mushroom is highly effective at preventing the development of breast cancer tumors.

Physicians around the world have been studying breast cancer long enough to know that it can take a tiny tumor decades to develop to the point where it is detectable by mammogram or physical inspection. This notion means that so-called “early detection” by mammogram may actually be instead very late detection, and a tumor that a woman can feel in her own breast today may have started growing 20 year earlier. Most oncologists now believe that the epithelial cancers that cause the most cancer deaths such as breast, colon, lung, pancreas, prostate, and ovarian cancers, all require up to 20 years or more to develop. That means that by the time these deadliest forms of cancer are actually detected, they have already been growing and mutating to better undermine our immune systems for many years. 

It also means that even if a woman feels just fine, she could have been harboring a malignancy for nearly 20 years and just didn’t know it. This leaves much to be desired in the way of cancer prevention as the prevention and the treatment might be the same thing, especially when it comes to those women who make a real attempt to start eating right and developing a diet that improves their chances of not growing undetected tumors in their breasts. One real problem that diets cannot address is that most breast tumors are estrogen receptor positive, and that means that estrogen makes them grow larger. Avoiding any foods or drugs that have estrogen in them can help in this battle, but unfortunately, physicians have discovered that many breast tumors can actually make their own estrogen.

In this case “many” means around 70%. Oncologists now know that 70% of all breast cancer tumors can synthesize estrogen on their own using an enzyme called aromatase. This discovery has led to a class of aromatase inhibitor drugs that are now commonly employed as chemotherapy agents, but by the time a tumor is found and chemotherapy has been started, it can be too late to stop the growth of a tumor. In response to this problem, cancer researchers began testing hundreds of different natural dietary foods and their components in the hope of finding another effective compound or element that would attack or reduce the aromatase enzyme. In their search, the researchers found seven vegetables with significant anti-aromatase activity including bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, green onions, and spinach that all had the ability to reduce aromatase activity by about 20%. The seventh and most interesting vegetable on the list is a mushroom.

The widely available, common white button mushroom known by the botanical name Agaricus bisporus was found to have the amazing ability to reduce estrogen production by a whopping 60%. New animal and lab research conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, has shown that white button mushrooms boost the immune system by increasing the production of proteins that fight disease-causing aromatase pathogens. The white button mushrooms also have a positive impact on immune system cells classified as dendritic cells. In a surprising conclusion, cancer researchers now know that white button mushrooms can be an important dietary element that can reduce the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer in women. Plus, any prevention strategies involving the mushrooms are readily available and affordable right now, meaning that the lowly white button mushroom may be able to help create more highly developed and effective breast cancer prevention strategies in the future too. Given the results of this research, it would be highly advisable for all women to start eating more white button mushrooms as soon as possible.

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