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How to Use Mushrooms to Boost Immunity and Heal Breast Cancer

We have explored mushrooms in our blog posts before. [1] And the overall answer to whether mushrooms can help heal breast cancer appears to be an overwhelming yes.

Every human body is different and every person has different needs. But there has been a lot of evidence that suggests that mushrooms can be a big part of a healthy lifestyle. Mushrooms are powerful little critters that can help your body heal and grow. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

So how do we use mushrooms to boost immunity and heal breast cancer? 

Four Sigmatic [2]
I started drinking Four Sigmatic to get my daily dose of medicinal mushrooms. It includes Chaga “the King of Mushrooms” for immune support. And it tastes just like regular coffee, NOT at all like mushrooms.

In particular, we discovered that women who ate at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms per day [3] saw their Breast Cancer risk reduced by 64%. Women who ate mushrooms and also drank green tea saw an 85% reduction in their Breast Cancer risk.

As we have posted before, medicinal mushrooms have been connected with lowering stress and improving brain health [4], helping to heal infection, boosting immunity, stabilizing diabetes [5], lowering inflammation and so much more. Which mushrooms are medicinal? They are all medicinal! 

Mushrooms are powerhouses of cancer-protective phytonutrients. They contain beta-glucans [6], which can boost immunity and lower inflammation. They also house antioxidants [7] that can protect against free radical DNA damage.

How do we know about mushrooms and Breast Cancer? We know because we have scientific proof of what the ancients have known for centuries.  Medicinal mushrooms are one of nature’s healing miracles. They should absolutely play a role in your own Healthy Breast toolbox.

This 2010 study [8] by PubMed evaluated the relationship between mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer according to hormone receptor status among Korean women. Mushroom intake and breast cancer risk were examined among 358 breast cancer patients and 360 cancer-free controls. The conclusion:  “Our results suggest that high consumption of mushrooms might be related to lower risks for breast cancers among premenopausal women; this association may be more robust among women with hormone receptor-positive tumors.

Mushrooms have been shown to reduce blood pressure as well as sugar levels, have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, cholesterol-reducing, and immune-enhancing properties. According to the Food for Breast Cancer website [9], generally speaking, mushrooms are a good source of dietary niacin (vitamin B3) and riboflavin (vitamin B2).

Mushrooms contain numerous compounds with anti-cancer activities, including butein, marmorin, various β-glucans and lectins, and ganodermanontriol. White button mushrooms – one of the most common mushrooms in the United States – are also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA [10]). Portobello mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light are a good source of vitamin D [11].

Mushroom consumption and reduced Breast Cancer risk have been demonstrated in many Asian studies. A case-control study of 1,009 Chinese Breast Cancer patients found that mushroom consumption was inversely related to Breast Cancer risk. Breast Cancer patients in Korea also found consumption of mushrooms to be associated with a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer. Another Korean study found that both high daily intake and high consumption frequency of mushrooms were associated with reduced risk of Breast Cancer among postmenopausal women.

The information in the remainder of this section concerns mushrooms commonly available in the U.S. Generally speaking, we would be cautious about consuming mushroom supplements because safe and effective dosages have not been established.

So much information on the benefits of mushrooms is available, and here is another good site [12] to check out that lists out the top 8 mushrooms for immune support.

benefits-mushrooms [13]

Which Mushrooms Should We Focus On?

Most mushrooms are a good step in the right direction when it comes to fighting Breast Cancer. Don’t assume you can only eat one type. There are so many things to consider! Since every woman’s journey to healing is a little different, it would be best if you decided which mushroom you would like to concentrate on.

White button mushrooms

White button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporous) are the most common mushrooms sold in supermarkets. They are also known as button mushrooms, white mushrooms, or table mushrooms. Portobello and crimini mushrooms are more mature forms of Agaricus bisporous. As they age, white button mushrooms mature into cremini mushrooms (which are brown) and then into portobellos (also brown and much larger). This landmark study concluded [14] that out of all the mushrooms, plain old white button mushrooms ranked highest as far as an anti-cancer activity!  According to Nutrition Facts. org [15], it might only take 5 mushrooms a day to suppress Breast Cancer growth!

Several studies have concluded that diets high in white button mushrooms may lower the risk of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+ [16]) Breast Cancer, especially in postmenopausal women, by reducing aromatase activity [17], a process by which androgens are converted to estrogens in the body. White button mushrooms have also been shown to inhibit the proliferation [18] of ER+ Breast Cancer Cells. However, they should be eaten cooked, not raw.

Maitake mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) are sold dried or fresh in some specialty markets and supermarkets. Maitake mushrooms have been shown to reduce growth, inhibit angiogenesis [19], and induce apoptosis of human Breast Cancer cells in the laboratory. In particular, maitake extract has been shown to reduce triple-negative (ER-/PR-/HER2- [20]) Breast Cancer cell viability and reduced their metastatic potential. However, a human trial of maitake mushroom supplementation in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors found that, contrary to expectations, the maitake extract had both immune-enhancing and immune suppressant effects at various doses.

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) are also available fresh or dried in grocery stores and specialty markets. Shiitake mushrooms have been found to inhibit increases in tumor volume of human breast cancer cells implanted in mice. Dried shiitake mushrooms are also a good source of dietary selenium [21], which is associated with a reduced risk of Breast Cancer.

Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) usually is sold only in powder form (typically in capsules), as a liquid extract, or as a tea, since reishi mushrooms are too bitter and tough to be eaten as food. Reishi mushroom extracts have been shown to inhibit the proliferation, adhesion, angiogenesis, migration, and invasion of several types of Breast Cancer cells, including triple-negative cells.

The addition of green tea [22] extract to reishi extract has been shown to have a synergistic effect in inhibiting adhesion, migration, and invasion of hormone receptor-negative (ER-/PR- [23]) Breast Cancer cells.

Reishi extract should not be used during chemotherapy. One study reported that reishi extract reduced the cytotoxic effects of Adriamycin [24] in ER+/PR+ [16] Breast Cancer cells. The same study reported that reishi increased the effectiveness of tamoxifen [25]. However, reishi extract has been shown to have estrogenic effects. Reishi significantly increases uterine weight in young rats in one study and promoting ER+/PR+ cell proliferation in another. Therefore, on balance, reishi probably should be avoided by those with ER+ Breast Cancer.

Reishi extract has been shown to be effective in inhibiting inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC [26]) progression, one of the few foods to have demonstrated a beneficial impact on this highly aggressive form of Breast Cancer. Even those with ER+ IBC might benefit from reishi.

favorite-mushrooms [27]

What else can Mushrooms Do? 

[28]
Liver Support is a synergistic formula designed to support healthy liver function. It consists of a blend of botanical and mushroom extracts, along with N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, which has powerful antioxidant and liver-protective actions.

One of the best adjunct functions of mushrooms in our bodies – aside from fighting cancer – is the support of our liver. The liver is one of the most important organs in our body. The liver handles most of the filtering of toxins and byproducts. In order to keep your system running clean, it is important to have a clean liver. 

A great way to take advantage of the power of medicinal mushrooms is by using them for Liver health [29].  The [30]Essentials System™ “Liver Support” [31] product is made up of targeted herbal botanicals and mushroom extracts, in addition to N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), and can protect your liver from oxidative stress as well as support glutathione production in your body. 

There are other ways to acquire mushrooms in your diet. One of my favorites is a product called Four Sigmatic [2], which has wonderful mushroom coffee and various cacao powders infused with mushrooms. Four Sigmatic features Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushrooms and is a kick in the pants in the morning!