Researchers Discover Mushrooms Could Be Potent Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and salsachica
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and salsachica

Studies at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California, suggest that fresh white mushrooms contain substances that could make them potent natural aromatase inhibitors.

I have been investigating natural aromatase inhibitors for several years because controlling the enzyme aromatase helps to decrease estrogen levels and this is important because the bulk of breast tumors are reliant upon estrogen to fuel their growth.

On June 6, 2012, I wrote an article titled Aromatase Inhibitors – Natural vs Toxic and listed the problems with the pharmaceutical variety of various aromatase inhibitors, as well as introducing quite a few natural ones that don’t produce the side effects that so many are struggling with.

Last week I was watching a PBS program titled “Dr Joel Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution”.  Dr Fuhrman is an American board-certified family physician who specializes in nutrition-based treatments for obesity and chronic disease and his presentation included a discussion of particular nutrients that exhibited anti-cancer benefits, so of course I took notes!

One thing he mentioned – and it was the first time I’d heard it – was that mushrooms are natural aromatase inhibitors.  So I went online to discover where the research originated and found the City of Hope research.

The Parameters of the Study

“Postmenopausal breast cancer survivors who were cancer free after completion of their treatments were enrolled in the trial.  Groups received a 12-week course of white button mushroom extract at 5, 8, 10 or 13 gram doses.  Because aromatase inhibition leads to a decrease in estrogen levels, a specific estrogen called estradiol was monitored and response was defined as a greater than 50 percent decrease in free estradiol levels in the blood circulation. Mushroom extract was well tolerated at all doses. However, no dose could be identified that met response criteria. In spite of this, a measurement of aromatase activity developed by Dr. Chen suggested some modest transient aromatase inhibition that lasted longest at the highest dose level (6 hours), suggesting that weak aromatase inhibition by mushrooms is achievable in patients, but that likely much higher amounts would be needed to achieve a clinically significant result.

That didn’t sound too hopeful, so I read a bit deeper and discovered that over the course of the 12 week study, while the researchers were able to observe phytochemical activity of the mushroom extract, it wasn’t at high enough concentrations to significantly reduce estrogen levels in patients.  They admitted that future studies should focus on more highly concentrated preparations of mushroom extract and perhaps change their focus to watching tissue levels of estrogens rather than circulating estrogen levels.

The unknown factors are dosage and whether we should take the mushrooms via extract in a vitamin form or by eating them fresh.  I have sent an email to the researchers at City of Hope and if I get a response, I will let you know!

Obviously further research needs to be done (and it may be underway right now) but I believe that since mushrooms are yummy anyway, they should be included in our daily diet, particularly because mushrooms have two other anti-cancer activities:

(1) they have antigen binding lectins which inhibit the growth of cancer cells; and

(2) they are angiogenesis inhibitors – tumors rely on the formation of new blood vessels to keep them growing and mushroom extracts have been shown to inhibit this growth.

Read my other articles on natural aromatase inhibitors.

Reference:

http://www.cityofhope.org/about/publications/news/Pages/city-of-hope-researchers-demonstrate-anti-cancer-effect-of-mushrooms-in-studies-at-2011-asco-annual-meeting.aspx

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