The magic of mushrooms and 14 other foods that may cut cancer risk

March 16, 2016 | by City of Hope

Can tossing some sliced mushrooms onto your salad help reduce your risk of breast cancer?

Yes, according to City of Hope’s Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., in a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “15 Foods That Cut Your Cancer Risk.”

In the article, Chen, who chairs the Department of Cancer Biology at City of Hope's Beckman Research Institute, explains that mushrooms contain compounds that prevent estrogen levels from getting too high. Since estrogen is a factor in 70 percent of all breast cancer cases, maintaining healthy levels of the hormone makes sense as a preventative measure.

In fact, according to one study, eating two cups of fresh mushrooms a day can decrease the risk of breast cancer by two-thirds.

It’s no secret that food choices can have a significant impact on cancer risk: Poor nutrition contributes to about 30 percent of all diagnosed cancers, and being overweight or obese has been linked to an increased risk for at least 10 different types of cancers, including breast, pancreatic, endometrial and colon.

Besides mushrooms, 14 other cancer-fighting edibles featured in the article include:

  1. Whole grains
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Broccoli
  4. Curcumin (an ingredient found in tumeric and ginger) 
  5. Black raspberries
  6. Vitamin D-fortified milk
  7. Wine
  8. Garlic
  9. Salmon
  10. Soy milk
  11. Green tea
  12. Coffee
  13. Olive oil
  14. Brazil nuts

Most of these foods help in two ways: They support a healthy weight, and they also contain certain phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that have anti-carcinogenic effects, such as lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, ellagic acid, vitamin D, flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Whole foods, as opposed to individual supplements, are best for reducing cancer risk, as many of these components work synergistically.

City of Hope's exploration into the potential of vegetables, fruits and herbs to naturally treat or prevent cancer got a boost in recent years thanks to a $2.5 million gift from the Panda Charitable Foundation, which helped launch City of Hope's Natural Therapies Program. By researching the power of nature, the Natural Therapies Program is working to identify treatments that will help heal patients more effectively than current treatments, with fewer side effects.

One study published last year by Chen and other City of Hope researchers found that powder made from white button mushrooms reduced the level of protein specific antigen, or PSA, in prostate cancer patients. This is a promising discovery, considering that a rise in PSA levels in men who have been treated for prostate cancer is often associated with disease recurrence.

Learn more about the research being conducted through the Natural Therapies Program

If you are looking for a second opinion about your diagnosis or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE (4673). Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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