Health Benefits of Mushrooms & Cancer

In happiness and holistic medicine, mushrooms have been used wiht success for millennia.

The Mushroom Kingdom is at the Core of the Web of Life

If mushrooms didn’t exist, neither would plants because mushrooms and mycelium break down rocks and organic matter, turning them into soil that provides the basic structure for nourishing plants.

Almost every ancient civilization around the world has used mushrooms for their healing properties for thousands of years. (Ancient Egyptians even called them the plant of immortality. Primates including humans have trillions of fungi in their gut and humans are more closely to fungi than to any other kingdom. (Source)

Mushrooms are a superfood (Section B) as well as a cancer fighter (See Section B).

Section A

Mushrooms are superfoods

An estimated 50% of edible mushrooms are considered functional foods, meaning that they have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition, like medical food, but even better. Research has identified more than 200 conditions that may benefit from mushroom consumption and more than 100 different beneficial effects they can produce for the body, including fight off cancer cells.

The nutritional value

Mushrooms are packed with nutritional value. They’re low in calories, are great sources of fiber and protein (good for plant-based diets). They also provide many important nutrients, including B vitamins, selenium, potassium, copper, and (particularly when exposed to the sun) vitamin D. Even white mushrooms are packed with as many antioxidants as more colorful fruits and vegetables. The brown more ripe mushrooms are usually the best nutritionally and medically.

Boosting the immune system

A clinical study conducted at the University of Florida’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that eating shiitake mushrooms daily improves immunity — in a way that is not found in any currently available pharmaceutical drugs. And common white button mushrooms, as well as other mushroom types, may also have anti-inflammatory power. Eating mushrooms may also help to prevent respiratory infections, according to a 2012 study published in Nutrition. In addition, mushrooms can alter positively the gut bacteria, thanks to which many diseases are mitigated, including obesity.  (From a 2015 study published in the journal Nature).

Extending longevity

Antioxidants may help with longevity. A diet rich in antioxidants protects cells from free radicals, helping the body cope with the normal oxidative stress that damages healthy cells.

While almost any edible mushroom will give you a boost in nutrients, the following seven mushrooms are proven to have the most antioxidants and may help you live longer: These are: Porcini Golden Oyster Pioppino Oyster Lion’s Mane Maitake Shiitake

Improving digestion  & Immune-surveillance

Mushrooms are a gut-friendly food. They are prebiotic, which means they nourish the good bacteria in your gut. They’ve also been found to balance the microbiome’s beneficial bacteria, such as Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. The microbiota already has trillions of fungi.

So fresh mushrooms fit in perfectly.

With enhanced diversity, the signaling networks work better, including with regard to immune-surveillance.

Weight loss with mushrooms

Mushrooms have a lot of nutritional value with few calories and little fat. They also contain two types of dietary fibers, beta-glucans and chitin, which increase satiety and reduce appetite In one study, researchers gave people less meat and more mushrooms in place of meat. After just one year, people reported feeling healthier, and they lost a lot of weight, had less diabetes, and their blood pressure and cholesterol went down.

 Prevention of Heart Disease

Medicinal mushrooms also help with heart disease. According to recent studies, mushrooms can prevent atherosclerotic plaque from sticking to arteries, thereby helping to prevent arteries from getting clogged. (5) If the plaque-forming compounds have nowhere to stick, they just move along their way and are escorted out of the body.

 Increased Oxygen and Decreased Adrenal Fatigue

Cordyceps sinesis, a tiny fungus known in Chinese medicine for years has been shown to significantly increase oxygen carrying capacity and fight adrenal fatigue, while also containing all of the cancer-killing functions of other mushrooms. (6,7,8). The white button mushroom as well as porcini, cremini, and Portobello rank high with regard to these pathologies. (9)

Section B

Cancer-fighting mushrooms

Mushrooms have been abundantly shown to be laden with cancer-fighting powers. According to a 2016 article published in Molecules:

“Many mushrooms have been used as foods and medicines for a long time. Mushrooms contain polyphenols, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals. Studies show that mushrooms possess various bioactivities, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immunomodulatory, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, and antidiabetic properties, therefore, mushrooms have attracted increasing attention in recent years, and could be developed into functional food or medicines for prevention and treatment of several chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and neurodegenerative diseases. The present review summarizes the bioactivities and health benefits of mushrooms, and could be useful for full utilization of mushrooms”. (Molecules. 2016 Jul 20;21(7)).

Numerous studies have shown that mushrooms help fight breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, uterine cervix cancer, pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, and acute leukemia. In addition, antitumor compounds have been identified in various mushrooms species. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women. So scientists have done a lot of research about the activities mushrooms possess against breast cancer.

In one  study of 2,000 women conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth, women who consumed at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer. And when they combined the mushrooms with the green tea, the effect is even stronger.

“Australian researchers from the University of Perth compared the diets and lifestyles of more than 2000 women who attended a breast clinic in China. Working with detailed registers of their consumption of a variety of foods, they observed that, all other factors being equal, women who consumed an average of more than 10 g of fresh mushrooms every day had 64% less risk of developing breast cancer than those who did not eat mushrooms. Those who ate 4 g of dried mushrooms saw their risk diminish by 47%. When consumption of green tea was added (more than 1g of tea-leaves infused per day), the protective effect of the two factors combined reached 89%!  (Source)

Certain of the top medicinal Mushrooms also contain a class of proteins called lectins, which are able to bind to abnormal cells and cancer cells and label the cells for destruction by our immune system.  These specialized lectins that recognize cancer cells and have been found to prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing. (3 Biotech. 2012 Mar; 2(1): 1–15) These lectins called antigen-binding lectins are unique in the field of molecular medicine. and the immune system. Additionally, they prevent the abnormal cells from replicating by pushing them into apoptosis. (2)  Mushrooms also have compounds within them that enhance natural killer T cell function (NKTs), which detect infected or damaged cells and destroy them. (3)

Furthermore, mushrooms contain high amounts of angiogenesis inhibitors. Angiogenesis, or the growth of new blood vessel networks, is required for both tumors and fatty deposits to continue to grow, and  compounds within mushrooms prevent these new blood vessels from being formed, thereby helping to stop both cancer proliferation and fat accumulation. (4)

Mushrooms are thought to protect against breast and other hormone-related cancers particularly because they inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which produces estrogen.  And several varieties of mushrooms, including the commonly eaten white button and portobello mushrooms, have strong anti-aromatase activity. Wine is also endowed with aromatase inhibitors, as such, wine and mushrooms make a good partnership. Shitake, oyster, maitake, turkey tail, and reishi mushrooms have bioactive compounds that can correct cancer cells’ signaling.

Pr Joubert


1. Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, et al. “A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women.” Int J Cancer 2008 Feb.
2. Yu L, Fernig DG, Smith JA, et al. “Reversable inhibition of proliferation of epithelial cell lines by Agaricus bisporus (edible mushroom) lectin.” Cancer Res 1993 Oct.
3. Borchers AT, Krishnamurthy A, Keen CL, et al. “The immunobiology of mushrooms.” Exp Biol Med. 2008 Mar.
4. Lee JS, Park BC, Ko YJ, et al. “Grifola frondosa (maitake mushroom) water extract inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor-induced angiogenesis through inhibition of reactive oxygen species and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation.” J Med Food. 2008 Dec.
5. Martin KR. “Both common and specialty mushrooms inhibit adhesion molecule expression and in vitro binding of monocytes to human aortic endothelial cells in a pro-inflammatory environment.” Nutr J. 2010 Jul.
6. Chen S, Li Z. Krochmal R, et al. “Effects of Cs-4 (Cordyceps sinesis) on exercise performance in healthy older subjects: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” J Altern Complement Med 2010 May.
7. Wang SM, Lee LJ, Lin WW, Chang CM. “Effects of a water-soluble extract of Cordyceps sinensis on steroidogenesis and capsular morphology of lipid droplets in cultured rat adrenocortical cells.” J Cell Biochem 1998 June.



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