DNC News


Mushrooms and Breast Cancer:

Jacob Schor, ND

November 1, 2007

Eating a lot of mushrooms may cut risk of breast cancer risk in post menopausal women by 80%. That should catch your attention.


Published on October 16 in the International Journal of Cancer, Hong and his associates at Hanyang University in Seoul have come up with some fascinating data. They evaluated the amount of mushrooms eaten by 362 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. These patients were then matched with controls, women of the same age and menopausal status. Using questionnaires and careful interviews, they figured out how many mushrooms all these women ate. When they initially compared the women who ate the most mushrooms against the women who ate the least mushrooms, the mushroom eaters had about half the risk of developing breast cancer. (actually 48%). When they broke the data down by menopausal status, the effect was far more dramatic.

The postmenopausal mushroom lovers had an overall risk of 0.16. That would be an 84% decrease, or put another way less than a fifth the risk. Mushroom consumption had no effect in premenopausal women.


This brings to mind the studies on mushrooms acting as aromatase inhibitors that we sent out this past July. See: http://denvernaturopathic.com/news/dietaryaromataseinhibitors.html


The other possible explanation that comes to mind is that many mushrooms act as immune stimulants. The counter argument to this idea is that this does not explain the striking difference between menopausal and premenopausal women. On the other hand, the potential effect of eating a whole pile of mushrooms regularly on aromatase action could explain this and is consistent with what these earlier would have predicted.

According to the Korean study, the mushrooms most commonly eaten by the women surveyed were:

Lentinus edodes (Shiitake mushroom)

Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster mushroom) and

Flammulina velutipes (Winter fungus or Enokitake)

[photos of these mushrooms]


This story isn't finished yet. In the meantime, here follows a mushroom soup recipe copied for the most part from The Gourmet Cookbook by our favorite Ruth Reichl who in turn copied it from a 1947 book (Katish: Our Russian Cook).


Fresh Mushroom Soup

2 cups half-and-half (or for the lactose challenged, 1 cup whipping cream and 1 cup Lactaid)

1 medium onion

½ stick butter (2 ounces)

¾ pound mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

4 teaspoons flour

1 cup stock (beef or chicken)

bay leaf, just a piece of one

¼ tsp salt


Bring milk to a boil and remove from heat but keep it warm. Slice up some of the onion, most of it if you like onions, less if you don't. Heat butter in a big heavy pot. Add the mushrooms and cook for about ten minutes, add the onions and keep cooking for awhile. Stir in the flour and cook for another couple of minutes. Then slowly stir in the stock and then the milk. Add the salt and bay leaf. And cook for another ten minutes. I'd be tempted to put a shake of paprika on top of this when I served it. Or perhaps, just a tiny grating of nutmeg. But then, I'm clearly obsessed with nutmeg.



Int J Cancer. 2007 Oct 17; [Epub ahead of print]

A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women.

Hong SA , Kim K , Nam SJ , Kong G , Kim MK .

Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine , Hanyang University , Seoul , Korea .

To evaluate the association between dietary mushroom intake and breast cancer risk, a total of 362 women between the ages of 30 and 65 years who were histologically confirmed to have breast cancer were matched to controls by age (+/-2 years) and menopausal status. Mushroom intake was measured via a food frequency questionnaire that was administered by well-trained interviewers. The associations between the daily intake and the average consumption frequency of mushrooms with breast cancer risk were evaluated using matched data analysis. Both the daily intake (5th vs. 1st quintile, OR = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.30-0.78, p for trend 0.030) and the average consumption frequency of mushrooms (4th vs. 1st quartile, OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.35-0.82, p for trend 0.008) were inversely associated with breast cancer risk after adjustment for education, family history of breast cancer, regular exercise [>/=22.5 MET (metabolic equivalent)-hr/week], BMI (body mass index, Kg/m(2)), number of children and whether they are currently smoking, drinking or using multivitamin supplements. Further adjustments were made for energy-adjusted carbohydrate, soy protein, folate and vitamin E levels, which tended to attenuate these results. After a stratification was performed according to menopausal status, a strong inverse association was found in postmenopausal women (OR = 0.16, 95% CI = 0.04-0.54, p for trend = 0.0058 for daily intake; OR = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.05-0.54, p for trend = 0.0037 for average frequency), but not in premenopausal women. In conclusion, the consumption of dietary mushrooms may decrease breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. (c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

PMID: 17943725 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]



Ask the Doctor:
What's the difference between naturopathy and homeopathy?

[click here for the answer]

Submit your question here.

Enter your email to recieve the latest Health and Wellness newsletters from the clinic.