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    Mushroom, our friend to boost immunity and reduce the risk of breast cancer:

    A recent article on Naturopathic Doctor News & Review by Dr. Jacob Schor, ND, induced my interest. It helps me learn more about consuming mushrooms to help with manage cancer risk. One amazing research finding showed eating a quarter-pound of mushrooms a week potentially decreases breast cancer risk by three quarters. The study Dr. Schor mentioned in the article is published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2008 by Korean researchers. (Hong et al., 2008)


    What does the mushroom study say?

    Women who participated in this study were confirmed breast cancer by both imaging and biopsy studies. They were interviewed carefully about their mushroom daily intake and frequency. The result was calculated to analyze whether an association existed between regular consumption of mushroom and breast cancer risk — the most prominent finding found in a woman after menopausal. Postmenopausal women with the most often mushroom intake carried an 84% risk reduction compared to those less often eaters. However, no apparent risk reduction noticed for the premenopausal woman.


    What kind of mushroom is beneficial if then?

    The species of mushroom had been investigated in the Korean study did not specify since it was a retrospective study. The researchers administered a general quantitative food frequency questionnaire to review their mushroom intake from the last three years. According to Korean culture, eating more mushrooms is healthy is a general public belief and influencing people's dietary patterns.


    Dr. Schor cited Dr. Shiuan Chen's series of mushroom studies in his paper to answer this question better. Moreover, the researches from Dr. Chen shown white bottom mushroom was beneficial for helping managing breast cancer risk. Other mushrooms had also been studied were shiitake and portabella, and both of them also are effective. The active molecules carrying a therapeutic effect found in the mushroom are procyanidin B dimers. These molecules act as an aromatase inhibitor in our bodies. The below session will explain how aromatase inhibitors work in our body, and it compared to pharmaceutical agents.


    How does this work?

    Based on the finding from the previous study, an increased mushroom intake reduced more breast cancer risk in the menopausal woman. Dr. Schor suggested some bioactive ingredients from mushroom carried an aromatase inhibited and estrogen modulating effect. Estrogen sensitive or not is an important criterion guiding the next step treatment for breast cancer. If breast cancer is estrogen-sensitive, which means estrogen stimulation promotes cancer cells growing. Blocking estrogen stimulation is the key mechanism to slow the process of cancer cells to make more of themselves. Therefore, one of Tamoxifen is a commonly used anti-cancer pharmaceutical agent. This medication conducts the same mechanism and reduces the mortality from breast cancer by 31%. Mushroom also demonstrated an aromatase inhibitor effect from Dr. Chen's published study. Thus, the mushroom is worth to study in prospective researches and benefits patients with breast cancer in the future. If you are interested in the biology of how mushroom acts as an aromatase inhibitor, Dr. Schor's article provides an excellent explanation, and its link is here.


    Any other researches supporting this finding?

    A review from Lena G. Guggenheim, ND, also found Reishi, Maitake, and Turkey tail mushroom demonstrated immune-modulating effects. Mushrooms affect our immune system and promoting cancer cell destruction by managing multiple inflammatory messengers like IFN-Y, IL-10, and TNF-alpha. The interest of using mushrooms to treat cancer attracts the researcher's attention in the last five years. Mushrooms and their extracts are considered an adjunct therapy is added to conventional treatment. More interesting, mushrooms might strengthen the effect of chemotherapy. 


    How does this piece of information help me?

    Diagnosing cancer would be a difficult time for both the patient and the family. Multiple treatments integrate to obtain the best outcome. Mushroom as an adjunctive treatment to conventional anti-cancer therapist remains a new topic in oncology. A naturopathic physician might help you get some insight into how to supplement mushrooms to better your general health when you were going through cancer therapies.


    Naturopathic physicians apply different interventions based on the therapeutic order. We always begin by using the lowest force intervention and help you establish the foundations of health. We want to help you understand the diagnosis, interpret your test results, look for your best treatment, and cope with the side effects of any medication.



    1. Editor1, J. S. (2008, May 12). Simplex Res; Mushrooms and Grape Seeds in Breast Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from
    2. Hong, S. A., Kim, K., Nam, S.-J., Kong, G., & Kim, M. K. (2007). A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. International Journal of Cancer, 122(4), 919–923. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.23134
    3. Guggenheim, A. G., Wright, K. M., & Zwickey, H. L. (2014, February). Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology. Retrieved from




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