US expert visiting Adelaide says one large mushroom a day reduces risk of breast and prostate cancer

MUSHROOMS are king, says a visiting cancer specialist who has found just 100g a day is a major line of defence for our bodies.

Dr Shiuan Chen, who has discovered mushrooms contain natural aromatase inhibitors which he links to a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer, was in Adelaide to speak to an Endocrine Society of Australia meeting.

“Mushrooms have the ability to suppress hormone action,” said Dr Chen, the professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, in the US.

He said the fungus stood out during initial screenings to see if any fruit or vegetable had the ability to reduce levels of oestrogen, “which is the female hormone that really drives the breast cancer”.

His trials are with everyday, widely available button mushrooms, but he believes any variety will have significantly more beneficial cancer-prevention properties than any other food tested.

Dr Chen said one large fresh mushroom, or about 100g, raw or cooked in any way, was beneficial because it is the chemicals in mushrooms that have the effect on hormones, and these remain stable regardless of the cooking method.

While he believes they are best in preventing cancer, he has also carried out trials on patients after their prostate surgery “who are just waiting because typically there is no other drug for them”.

He has seen cases where elevated levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) present in prostate cancer patients, have dropped to zero after a series of mushroom doses.

In cancer patients, 100g of mushrooms a day is recommended “but if only for prevention when you are otherwise healthy, you probably don’t need that level”.

He said an exciting result of the trials also shows possible broader benefits and that mushrooms can suppress certain immune cells, “strengthening our immune function and making it a very important way to defend our body”.

In Australia, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the deadliest cancer in women. There are 14,500 new cases each year and 2800 deaths. Prostate cancer is also the second most common cancer (behind lung cancer) in men with 20,000 new cases and 3100 deaths annually.

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