Marvelous Mushrooms!

Eat Mushrooms and Reduce Breast Cancer Risk.
Intake of mushrooms can decrease your risk of breast cancer. Many types of mushrooms have been shown to have many health benefits due to anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer activities. Studies have shown intake of mushrooms to be inversely related to breast cancer risk. It should be noted, however, that some mushrooms are poisonous, as most people are aware, and some have been shown to actually promote cancer, so choosing the right type of mushroom is crucial.

There are more than 3,000 varieties of mushrooms in North American. White button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus): The common white mushroom sold in your grocery store has strong anti-cancer effects. They reduce estrogen production and inhibit proliferation of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells, thereby lowering the risk of estrogen receptor breast cancer. Raw white button mushrooms may increase risk of breast cancer, however, which may be due to pesticides or other contaminants.

White button mushrooms should be cleaned and cooked before consumption. Cooking mushrooms also releases CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which can also lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. CLA binds to aromatase , a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of estrogen, which then leads to decreased estrogen production. Other beneficial edible mushrooms include: portobello, crimini, maitake, and shitake. These have all been shown to have anti-breast cancer properties. Maitake and shitake have been shown to have anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies only, using mice or extracted breast cancer cells, however. Reishi mushroom extracts (Ganoderma Lucidum) have been shown to inhibit inflammatory breast cancer progression, and inhibit several other types of breast cancer cells.

Combination of reishi extract with green tea extract has shown to have a synergist anti-cancer effect on ER-/PR- (estrogen-receptor negative and progesterone negative) breast cancer cells. They have been shown in other studies to have estrogenic type properties and may be detrimental to those with or at risk for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, however.

Mushrooms are very low in calories (1/2 cup cooked = 21 calories) as they are approximately 90% water and fat free. They are a good source of B vitamins, selenium, potassium, and copper. Of note, mushrooms are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D. Interestingly, vitamin D content has been increased in some studies by exposing harvested mushrooms to sunlight for 5 minutes (up to 869% of recommended daily value in one standard serving). Mushrooms also contain the antioxidant ergothioneine (highest in exotic mushrooms such as shitake and maitake, but also is in portabella, criminis, and white button), and beta-glucans, which activate the immune system, have tumoricidal properties, and can enhance the effects of chemotherapy. Tips for adding mushrooms to your diet: add to spaghetti sauce instead of meat, add to stir fries, omelets, rice, and soups, or try a Portobello mushroom burger.

You can find many delicious recipes using mushrooms at, plus links to published research studies.

References: UF ( ),, INR seminar (Women’s Health Update: Breast Health, Hormones, and Osteoporosis, 2011)



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