Mushrooms: Anti Cancer or just Fun Guys?

Mushrooms. The Magical world of Mushrooms. There are many types of mushrooms.  Some mushrooms are edible and some are not, some cause disease and others cure it. Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs declared mushrooms only fit for royal consumption. Many varieties of mushrooms are used in Chinese medicine and have been for thousands of years. Mycology, the study of mushrooms comes from the ancient greek word mycos which means fungus. Mushrooms were originally more closely associated with plants, but studies revealed they are evolutionarily closer to animals.

Five Mushrooms You should Consider Adding to Your Diet:
White Button(agaricus bisporus)
Shiitake(Lentinula edodes)
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Oyster(Pleurotus ostreatus)

*Cordyceps sinensis- not easily found to eat, but can be found as a supplement

Mushrooms are not yet on the American Institute of Cancer Research’s list of Foods That Fight Cancer- but it is listed as coming soon because they are currently conducting studies to evaluate the cancer fighting properties of these fun guys.  Mushrooms have antioxidants and nutrients that are already shown to fight and prevent cancer. Mushrooms have nutrients that protects the cells and strengthen our bodies’ immune fighting capability. All in all they are a good choice to add to your diet because the preliminary results show mushrooms are a player in the nutritional fight against cancer.

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms:
-Low Calorie and fat free
-Great source of B vitamins and Vitamin D
-Good source of Minerals(Selenium, Copper, Potassium, Ergothioneine)
-Good Source of Beta Glucans(Immune stimulating, cholesterol lowering and anti tumor)

Known Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms:
-Helps lower cholesterol
-high in antioxidants- helps protect cells from damage and prevent heart disease
-Strengthen immunity

Mushrooms and Cancer:
-Researchers at City of Hope Hospital found that button mushrooms fight the estrogen properties that help breast cancer grow and spread. It is a natural aromatase inhibitor.

– A Korean Study found women with higher diets of mushrooms had a lower incidence of breast cancer.

-Oyster mushrooms(Pleurotus ostreatus)  slowed growth of breast  and colon cancer cells with or without p53.

-Chinese studies showed Coriolus mushrooms enhanced immune system, improved quality of life, survival, and reduced chemotherapy side effects in lung, gastrointestinal, nose,  throat and cervical cancers.

How to Prepare Mushrooms– via Huffington Post

Some other FUNgi Facts about MUSHROOMS:
-Fear of mushrooms is called Fungophobia
-some can seemingly appear overnight due to absorption of water: where the expression mushrooming comes from
-mushrooms can be toxic, fight viruses, eat wood, and absorb heavy metals- even radiation.

The Mushroom lady
Mycology Wiki

NIH Review of Mushroom Anti Cancer Properties
UK Cancer Research Review of Mushrooms in Cancer Therapy
City of Hope- Mushroom Research

American Cancer Society Complementary Medicine-Diet and Nutrition

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center- Integrative Medicine

NIH- Mushrooms reduce Breast cancer cell proliferation
NIH– Oyster mushrooms work with or without p53 pathways in breast and colon cancer cells
NIH-Mushrooms and cancer therapies
Journal of Nutrition– Button mushrooms are Aromatase Inhibitors
Korean Study – linked higher quantity of dietary mushrooms to lower risk of breast cancer.

The Anti-Tumor-ific Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice from a root related to ginger that’s been used in Asian and Indian cooking for thousands of years. Turmeric is regularly used in Ancient Indian medicine called Ayurveda. Turmeric was the original dye used to make the robes of Buddhist monks the traditional yellow- orange color, symbolic of the sun. It is still used as a food coloring and if you ever see E100 in the ingredient list, it’s the sunny property of turmeric doing it’s thing.

Recently, discussion over the possible health benefits from turmeric has increased. Some claim it as being the next miracle supplement. The good news is that any time there seems to be an influx of businesses or natural health centers talking about a supplement and it’s positive effects, the scientific community hops on board to validate these claims. Over the past 5 years or so- there have been efforts to prove or disprove turmeric as an anti-cancer therapy.

One of the active ingredients in turmeric is called curcumin. It is called the “active” ingredient. Many times when we look at the ingredient list of medicines or supplements- you see the word “active”, it means that is the ingredient that is doing what the product claims to do. One is not to assume that the inactive ingredients do not have an effect, they are just not the ones being looked at. That being said, I will emphasize- moderation is key to finding balance. Americans tend to over use the philosophy that if a little bit is good, more is better. This isn’t always the best approach- especially with herbs and spices. Just think about chili powder, a little is a nice flavor but too much will make your mouth burn.

Now turmeric is being claimed to help with conditions such as Alzheimers, diabetes, arthritis, pancreatitis and cancer. There is no magic bullet to cure any of these diseases. Turmeric in any amount alone will not cure these ailments but it can help your body fight them. Studies even show that turmeric doesn’t absorb particularly well in the digestive system. When you are living LFS, we tend to focus on cancer and p53. So naturally we want to know- how does turmeric(or curcumin) affect p53 and mutant p53.  Remember, when you have LFS, you have mutated p53 in all of your cells. You also have functioning p53 or you would be one great big tumor. I know some days it may feel like that- but sometimes we have to help our bodies find the balance. When stress or other factors tip the balance toward mutation then p53 loses its tumor suppressing power. Is turmeric a useful aid in restoring that balance?

In different studies:
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant.
Turmeric was shown to increase the action of p53 in colon cancer cell lines.
Curcumin induces cell death in colon cancer cells not through the p53 pathway.
Curcumin caused cell death in leiomyosarcoma(uterine) cells.
Curcumin decreases p53 activity in breast cancer cell lines but also has anti estrogen effect.
Curcumin binds to and activates Vitamin D receptors, and Vitamin D has known anticancer properties.
Curcumin showed relevant biological activity in early pancreatic cancer trials. It did not appear to interfere with gemcitibine or have toxic side effects.

This implies that curcumin could help fight cancer cells, regardless of whether their p53 is mutated or not. Some studies say turmeric’s activity is p53 dependent and some say it is not. That can be frustrating to hear, but also implies turmeric has a healthy balance in how it helps cells because maybe it does both. It doesn’t only work by one mechanism so tumeric could benefit your health with or without functioning p53.  Turmeric appears to have positive health benefits in several studies. It does however interact and prevent several chemotherapies from working such as Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. That is one reason it’s always important to let your doctor know if you are taking any supplements regularly.  It makes no sense to put your body through chemotherapy and not make sure it has the best chance at working. At the same time, there are many herbs and spices like turmeric that can help your body kill off cancer cells, prevent them from growing all the while not harming normal cells.

Turmeric Take Away: Early studies show turmeric and curcumin have positive health impact with few side effects or toxicity. Adding this spice to foods regularly can’t hurt.

Practical Notes:
You can sprinkle a little turmeric in soups, on vegetables, chicken or other meats daily.
You can buy turmeric powder in bulk at Asian or Indian specialty stores for cheaper than most stores.
You can buy capsules and put turmeric powder inside if you do not like the taste.
Turmeric will dye your hands and clothes.
Everything in moderation- turmeric can slow blood clotting and cause stomach upset in high doses.

Turmeric can add a little spice to Living LFS.

References and More Information:

American Cancer Society: Turmeric
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Turmeric
Margaret’s Corner Health Blog: p53 and Turmeric