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Mushrooms and medicine.

Food experts know that low-fat mushrooms are a rich source of B vitamins and potassium. Now, new research suggests that the fungi contain substances that might prove to be useful in the treatment and prevention of serious diseases, including breast and prostate cancer.

Preliminary studies show that a yet-to-be-identified substance in white mushrooms suppresses breast cell proliferation by inhibiting an enzyme called aromatase involved in estrogen production. A research team at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, tested extracts from green onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, broccoli, spinach, and various types of mushrooms. The most effective aromatase inhibitor was found in white mushrooms. Dr. Shiuan Chen and his colleagues plan to test mice this year.

Ongoing trials are exploring a potential link between the essential mineral selenium and prostate cancer (see sidebar above right).

Shiitake, maitake, white and portabella mushrooms are good sources of selenium. A recent study at New York Medical College showed that beta-glucan compounds (called D-fraction) in maitake destroyed prostate cancer cells in the test-tube.

Nutrients for Men's Health

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are recruiting 32,000 healthy men in their 50s to test whether selenium or vitamin E can help prevent prostate cancer.

Previous studies link a daily intake of 200 micrograms of selenium (about twice the national average) to a reduced risk of lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

For more information on the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), call the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER.
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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Medical Update
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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