In the last few years mushroom extracts have gained a well-deserved central role in my cancer fighting protocols. As I am constantly searching for natural compounds to prevent and fight cancer, when I first came across the medicinal power of mushrooms I was amazed and enthused by their strong anticancer powers.
Mushrooms have long been used in traditional Eastern medicine; the earliest records go back over four thousand years in China. Like the Chinese, other nations from Japan to Korea and Taiwan have included the use of medicinal mushrooms in their treatment of many serious diseases, including cancer.
In this article we are going to explore the ability of mushrooms to prevent and fight cancer and their ability to be used along with conventional cancer treatments for reducing treatment related side-effects and improving the long-term health of cancer patients.
Mushrooms Lower Cancer risk by Stimulating the Immune System
Mushrooms contain compounds that have been linked to lowering the risk of a range of cancers. They have been found to stimulate the immune system by increasing the number and activity of our immune cells. Surprisingly, the anticancer effects of extracts of edible mushrooms were first reported back in 1969, in the journal Cancer Research.
Since that time the anticancer activity of edible and medicinal mushrooms has been studied extensively. A meta-analysis of ten large studies on breast cancer, with a total of 6,890 cases, was published in 2014 by a team of Chinese researchers. They concluded that mushroom intake had protective effects against breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women. The higher the mushroom intake, the greater was the level of protection. In their report, the scientific team concluded that polysaccharides present in mushrooms trigger a wide spectrum of host immune responses, which are capable of recognizing abnormal cancerous cells and eliminating them.
In some studies, women who ate mushrooms had up to 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms. Mushrooms are specifically effective in inhibiting the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancers.
Main Anticancer Mechanisms of Medicinal Mushrooms:
- Enhance detection of cancer cells
- Lead cancer cells to apoptosis (cell death)
- Reduce metastasis
- Stop tumor growth
- Block the new blood supply that tumors create
Mushrooms Increase Survival When Used Along with Cancer Treatments
Mushroom extracts are used along with chemotherapy and radiation in China and Japan. They have been found to reduce side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, including nausea and hair loss.
Patients with colorectal cancer who had surgical treatments for their cancers stayed in remission and were disease-free for a significantly longer period when given a mushroom extract. The people who received the mushroom extracts also lived longer.
Shiitake, Maitake, Enokitake, Cremini, Portobello, and Oyster (or Pleurotus) Mushrooms
With tens of thousands mushroom species around the world, it’s only logical to wonder which are the ones that really stand out for their ability to deliver this tremendous boost to our immune system and which have been found to prevent and treat cancer.
Shiitake, maitake, enokitake, cremini, Portobello, and oyster (or pleurotus) mushrooms are the ones that are richer in the immune-enhancing compounds.
Cremini is actually one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world. It is actually the same common white mushroom that is very easily available in all Western countries, also known as the button mushroom or champignon. When it becomes more aged and brown it is known as a cremini, chestnut, or Italian mushroom. When mature, the same mushroom is known as the Portobello mushroom.
If you find oyster mushrooms on the market, remember that they are also known as pleurotus, and that they are the ones that in laboratory tests were shown to be the most effective against breast cancer cells.
Reishi mushrooms were known to the ancients as “the mushrooms of immortality”. Over the past several decades, scientific studies have focused on the medicinal powers of the Reishi mushrooms and have led to the discovery and analysis of hundreds of its unique bio-active compounds.
Reishi mushrooms contain polysaccharides, triterpenes and the ganoderma lucidum peptite, all of which have unique anticancer effects, such as preventing abnormal blood vessel formation, boosting immune function, protecting the liver, acting as very strong antioxidants.
Mushrooms are not only tasty and delicious, they are also powerful superfoods that boost your immune system, promote longevity and help in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Add mushrooms such as oyster, Portobello, shiitake and maitake in your weekly anticancer menu.
- Ikekawa, Tetsuro, Nobuaki Uehara, Yuko Maeda, Miyako Nakanishi, and Fumiko Fukuoka. “Antitumor activity of aqueous extracts of edible mushrooms.” Cancer Research 29, no. 3 (1969): 734-735.
- Li, Jiaoyuan, Li Zou, Wei Chen, Beibei Zhu, Na Shen, Juntao Ke, Jiao Lou, Ranran Song, Rong Zhong, and Xiaoping Miao. “Dietary mushroom intake may reduce the risk of breast cancer: evidence from a meta-analysis of observational studies.” PloS one 9, no. 4 (2014): e93437.
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