Can Mushrooms Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

by Natalie on April 17, 2012

Mushrooms are often overshadowed by other glamorous “superfoods”, but its mushrooms who are among the most powerful.

Mushrooms have been used in many cultures to treat and prevent illness for centuries. In the western world, they are just now starting to get some attention.

In research, mushrooms have shown to have powerful anti-oxidant activity, anti-inflammatory activity, and immune boosting activity. Most importantly, studies of women with high mushroom intakes have shown lower rates of breast cancer. This may be of particular importance to post-menopausal women, as mushrooms can help maintain healthy estrogen levels. In research, some mushroom types have been able to shut off the enzyme that creates estrogen, leading to healthier hormone levels.

Mushrooms may also be helpful during breast cancer treatment. A 7 year study done at the National Institutes of Health looked at the effect of Turkey Tail mushroom on patients with active breast cancer. The study showed that turkey tail helped improve the immunity of the women without any adverse side effects. This is a huge benefit for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

The Most Powerful Breast Cancer Fighting Mushrooms

In research studies, the following mushrooms have suggested a protective effect against breast cancer. I have also provided you with additional health information in the brief paragraph that follows each mushroom.

 1. Shiitake

Lentinan, a component extracted from shiitake mushrooms, is an approved anti-cancer drug in Japan. Lentinan is the most well known anti-cancer component in the shiitake but others exist. Shiitakes have also proven beneficial at treating other diseases and illnesses including HIV, and herpes.

 2. Maitake

Maitakes are high in 1,6 Beta Glucan, a type of polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate). Research has shown strong anti-tumor activity of maitake mushrooms in animal and test tube studies. Some older studies showed that an extract of maitake reduced tumor growth by 86% in mice implanted with cancer cells. Maitakes have shown to be protective against a wide variety of cancers.

3. Oyster

In rodent studies, oyster mushrooms have shown to inhibit tumor growth, and stop carcinogens from initiating cancer. An interesting non-cancer related health fact is that oyster mushrooms naturally produce Lovastatin, a drug that is commonly used to treat high blood cholesterol.

Ways To Use Mushrooms in Meals

  • Add to stir-fries and/or soups
  • Saute lightly in oil and serve as a side dish
  • Brush with oil and grill

Are White Button Mushrooms Healthy?

Interestingly, white button, portabella and crimini mushrooms all belong to the same family. In some studies, these mushrooms have shown to be protective against breast cancer. BUT there is one caveat and that is why I don’t have them listed as “the most powerful”. White button mushrooms and their family members are also know to contain carcinogenic compounds called hydrazines. The effect of these toxins are largely unknown, and at this time it is still considered safe to eat these mushrooms is small amounts. Avoid eating these mushrooms raw; heat may decrease the amount of toxins present.


Reference: Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets – The mushroom bible!


photo by: the paessels

Deborah williams December 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

OooWhat is the research on chaga mushrooms?

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