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Mushrooms and Grapes Inhibit Breast Cancer

Estrogen, by promoting the proliferation of breast cancer cells, is well known to be a major factor in the development of breast cancer. In recent studies, phytochemicals in both grapes and mushrooms have been shown to inhibit aromatase, an enzyme involved in estrogen production, thus lowering estrogen levels and protecting against breast cancer.

For cancer protection, it’s important that the grapes and mushrooms you eat are organic. A number of pesticides have been shown to stimulate aromatase activity, and non-organic grapes and mushrooms are among the most highly sprayed fruits and vegetables.

Practical Tips

Here are a few of the World’s Healthiest Foods quick serving ideas to help you enjoy the cancer-protective benefits of mushrooms and grapes.

  • Freeze grapes for a delicious snack treat.
  • Add grapes to any fruit or mixed green salad. For an enhanced visual effect, consider using a few different varieties of grapes.
  • Give your curries a fruity punch by including fresh grapes in the recipe.
  • Add finely chopped mushrooms to a pot of tomato pasta sauce.
  • Thread mushrooms on a skewer, coat lightly with olive oil and grill for approximately ten minutes.
  • Remove the stem, then stuff mushrooms with your favorite vegetable dip or soft cheese.
  • Slice mushrooms, marinate in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and use as a garnish for sandwiches.

To learn more about these cancer-preventive members of the World’s Healthiest Foods, click mushrooms, or grapes.

For a list of the World’s Healthiest Foods’ recipes containing mushrooms or grapes, click on the Recipe Assistant, select either food on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all of the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing the food chosen will appear immediately below.

Research Summary

In the majority of cancerous breast tissue, estrogen levels are higher than in normal healthy tissue because levels of aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen, are abnormally high. Researchers are therefore trying to find ways to suppress the body’s production of aromatase to prevent and treat breast cancer.

The most promising area of aromatase research is the identification of foods and dietary compounds that can suppress aromatase activity. So far, grapes and mushrooms have been shown in in vitro and in vivo studies to contain chemicals that can inhibit aromatase. In one study, the white button mushroom (species Agaricus bisporus) was found to suppress aromatase activity dose dependently—the higher the dose of mushrooms, the more aromatase inhibition. Analysis of the phytochemicals in mushroom extract revealed that they inhibited aromatase in a number of ways.

The results of these studies suggest that frequent consumption of mushrooms and grapes is one way you can help protect against the development of breast cancer since both foods inhibit aromatase activity and thus reduce the production of estrogen in breast tissue.

References: Chen S, Zhou D, Okubo T, Kao YC, Eng ET, Grube B, Kwon A, Yang C, Yu B.Prevention and treatment of breast cancer by suppressing aromatase activity and expression. N Y Acad Sci2002 Jun;963:229-38. Grube BJ, Eng ET, Kao YC, Kwon A, Chen S. White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation. J Nutr 2001 Dec;131(12):3288-93. Chen S, Zhou D, Yang C, Okubo T, Kinoshita Y, Yu B, Kao YC, Itoh T. Modulation of aromatase expression in human breast tissue. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2001 Dec;79(1-5):35-40. Sanderson JT, Boerma J, Lansbergen GW, van den Berg M. Induction and inhibition of aromatase (CYP19) activity by various classes of pesticides in H295R human adrenocortical carcinoma cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2002 Jul 1;182(1):44-54. Andersen HR, Vinggaard AM, Rasmussen TH, Gjermandsen IM, Bonefeld-Jorgensen EC. Effects of currently used pesticides in assays for estrogenicity, androgenicity, and aromatase activity in vitro. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2002 Feb 15;179(1):1-12.


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