Inside a research lab at City of Hope, in the same space as hundreds of strange-sounding molecules and compounds are foods like mushrooms, pomegranates and blueberries. These and other superfoods are being studied for their potential ability to fight cancer. Superfoods are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals and eating them is associated with lower risk of chronic disease, longer lifespan and better overall health. Scientists at City of Hope have found that besides those obvious health benefits, compounds in certain superfoods may have some of the same cancer-fighting potential as conventional drugs — from blocking the hormones that help cancer spread, to cutting off tumors’ lifeline, to triggering cancer cells’ destruction. Among the findings of the studies: Drugs derived from shiitake mushrooms could help the immune system fight lung cancer; foods like grape seed extract, pomegranates and blueberries may effectively fight breast cancer; and a recently published study found mushroom powder may reduce the risk of prostate cancer returning.

We are interested in natural products with the ability to fight cancer and are finding encouraging evidence that some foods may have that potential.” Shiuan Chen, Ph.D.


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