Women's health

Study suggests that eating mushrooms might protect against breast cancer

zone image Study of chinese women shows reduction in breast cancer for those that regularly eat mushrooms

A study of over 2,000 Chinese women found that those who ate large quantities of mushrooms (and green tea) had reduced incidence of breast cancer by up to 90%.

The study was carried out a team from the University of Western Australia in Perth and reported in the International Journal of Cancer. They found that Chinese woman who ate at least 10g of mushrooms a day were 64% less likely to suffer from breast cancer. If the mushrooms were dried the effect was reduced to around 50%. If the mushroom consumption was combined with green tea then the risk was reduced by almost 90%! It is known that green tea contains anti-oxidants compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to fight breast tumours in animals. These compounds are removed in the production of black tea (what we use in the traditional British "cuppa").

Of course this study does not PROVE that eating mushrooms every day will stop you getting breast cancer. Rather they indicate that there is a stron connection between increased consumption and reduced risk in Chinese women. Different countries have different rates for many diseases, with China having a lower incidence of breast cancer that the UK. This is almost certainly linked to a variety of factors covering diet, exercise and other lifestyle features.

Although the study did take into account other known factors for breast cancer risk, it is not yet conclusive proof of cause and effect. The researchers measured the rates of breast cancer in the women studied and then related this to other factors measured. So the women taking mushrooms and green tea daily were already doing this before the study, so there may be other factors that they have in common which were not identified.

However these are interesting results that need further investigation.

This article was published on Tue 17 March 2009

Image © Vladislav Gansovsky - Fotolia.com

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