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Can Mushrooms Reduce Risk?

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Eating mushrooms to reduce the risk of breast cancer? It's an intriguing idea and the science behind results of a study is fairly well understood. But it's also important to note that the study tested mushroom extracts on mice, not people. More research is needed to see if this protective effect is the same in women.

A substance found in mushrooms called linoleic acid appears to inhibit aromatase activity. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body make estrogen. So eating mushrooms may result in less estrogen being made. Since many breast cancers depend on estrogen to grow, less estrogen may mean less breast cancer.

The same logic explains why aromatase inhibitors are used as adjuvant therapy (treatment after the main treatment) to prevent certain types of early breast cancer from coming back. Aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex (chemical name: anastrozole), Aromasin (chemical name: exemestane), and Femara (chemical name: letrozole) also can be used to treat advanced breast cancer.

Most dietitians agree that a diet rich in plant foods may be healthier than a diet that contains a lot of animal products. They also believe that the healthful compounds in different foods work together to provide health benefits. The benefits of any single food must be evaluated as a part of your whole diet. Instead of relying on a particular food in huge quantities, aim for a balanced diet with a variety of foods. And if you like mushrooms, include them as part of your diet. Visit the Breastcancer.org Nutrition section to learn more.

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