Mushrooms Enhance Immune Function and Protect Against Cancer
Did you know that mushrooms enhance immune function and protect against cancer?
Mushrooms support the immune system Mushrooms contain specialized lectins (ABL) that recognize cancer cells, and prevent the cells from growing and dividing.1,2 Mushroom phytochemicals enhance the activity of natural killer cells, which are specialized immune cells that attack and destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells.3 Mushrooms are unique in their breast cancer preventing (anti-aromatase) effects Frequent consumption of mushrooms (approximately 1 button mushroom per day) has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer by 64%.4 Mushrooms are thought to protect against breast cancer particularly because they inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which produces estrogen. Mushrooms are one of the very few foods that inhibit aromatase (pomegranate is another), and several varieties of mushrooms, especially the commonly eaten white button and portobello mushrooms, have strong anti-aromatase activity.5
Mushrooms protect against all cancers Consumption of mushrooms does not only protect against breast cancer. In addition to anti-aromatase activity, white, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have all been shown to have a wide variety of anti-cancer properties. These effects have been studied in relation to stomach, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.6-14
Mushrooms add unique flavors and textures to vegetable dishes, and are delicious paired with fresh herbs. Combining mushrooms with the onion family, green and cruciferous vegetables, and beans, creates delicious, healthful, and powerfully protective meals. Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content. 15,16 I discuss the unique health benefits of mushrooms in detail in my book Super Immunity. For an extra immune boost from ten different mushrooms not often available to include in your diet, try my new immune support supplement Immunotect.
1. Yu L, Fernig DG, Smith JA, et al. Reversible inhibition of proliferation of epithelial cell lines by Agaricus bisporus (edible mushroom) lectin. Cancer Res 1993;53:4627-4632.
2. Carrizo ME, Capaldi S, Perduca M, et al. The antineoplastic lectin of the common edible mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) has two binding sites, each specific for a different configuration at a single epimeric hydroxyl. The Journal of biological chemistry 2005;280:10614-10623.
3. Borchers AT, Krishnamurthy A, Keen CL, et al. The Immunobiology of Mushrooms. Exp Biol Med 2008;233:259-276.
4. Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, et al. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer 2009;124:1404-1408.