Vegetables vs. Breast Cancer

Vegetables vs. Breast Cancer
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Mushrooms may help prevent breast cancer by acting as an aromatase inhibitor to block breast tumor estrogen production.

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What new developments are there in the battle against breast cancer? Well, most breast tumors are estrogen receptor positive, meaning they respond to estrogen; estrogen makes them grow. The problem for tumors in postmenopasal women is that there isn’t much estrogen around—unless, of course, you take it in a drug like Premarin, made from pregnant mares’ urine, found not to affect the quality of women’s lives, just the quantity—increasing the risk of strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and breast cancer.

Thankfully, millions of women stopped taking it in 2002, and we saw a nice dip in breast cancer rates. But, unfortunately, those rates have since stagnated. Hundreds of thousands of American women continue to get this dreaded diagnosis every year. So, what’s next?

Well, with no estrogen around, many breast tumors devise a nefarious plan: they’ll just make their own. 70% of breast cancer cells synthesize estrogen themselves using an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen; blue to pink. And so, drug companies have produced a number of aromatase inhibitor drugs, which are used as chemotherapy agents. Of course, by the time you’re on chemo, it can be too late, so researchers started screening hundreds of natural dietary components in hopes of finding something that targets this enzyme.

Now, to do this, you need a lot of human tissue; where you going to get it from? To study skin, for example, researchers use discarded human foreskins. They’re just being thrown away; might as well use them. Where are you going to get discarded female tissue, though? Placentas. Human placentas. So they got a bunch of women to donate their placentas after giving birth, to further this critical line of research.

After years of searching, they found seven vegetables with significant anti-aromatase activity. And here they are: seven different vegetables, dropping aromatase activity about 20%, except for this one: that’s like a 60 to 65% drop inhibition. Which one was it? Was it the bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, celery, green onions, mushrooms, or spinach? Well, it wasn’t green onion, not celery, not carrots, not peppers, nor broccoli—that would have been my guess—not spinach, but, X marks the spot: mushrooms.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute, Miansari66 via Wikimedia Commons, BogHog and By User:Slashme and User:Mikael Häggström (Self-made using bkchem and inkscape) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

What new developments are there in the battle against breast cancer? Well, most breast tumors are estrogen receptor positive, meaning they respond to estrogen; estrogen makes them grow. The problem for tumors in postmenopasal women is that there isn’t much estrogen around—unless, of course, you take it in a drug like Premarin, made from pregnant mares’ urine, found not to affect the quality of women’s lives, just the quantity—increasing the risk of strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and breast cancer.

Thankfully, millions of women stopped taking it in 2002, and we saw a nice dip in breast cancer rates. But, unfortunately, those rates have since stagnated. Hundreds of thousands of American women continue to get this dreaded diagnosis every year. So, what’s next?

Well, with no estrogen around, many breast tumors devise a nefarious plan: they’ll just make their own. 70% of breast cancer cells synthesize estrogen themselves using an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen; blue to pink. And so, drug companies have produced a number of aromatase inhibitor drugs, which are used as chemotherapy agents. Of course, by the time you’re on chemo, it can be too late, so researchers started screening hundreds of natural dietary components in hopes of finding something that targets this enzyme.

Now, to do this, you need a lot of human tissue; where you going to get it from? To study skin, for example, researchers use discarded human foreskins. They’re just being thrown away; might as well use them. Where are you going to get discarded female tissue, though? Placentas. Human placentas. So they got a bunch of women to donate their placentas after giving birth, to further this critical line of research.

After years of searching, they found seven vegetables with significant anti-aromatase activity. And here they are: seven different vegetables, dropping aromatase activity about 20%, except for this one: that’s like a 60 to 65% drop inhibition. Which one was it? Was it the bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, celery, green onions, mushrooms, or spinach? Well, it wasn’t green onion, not celery, not carrots, not peppers, nor broccoli—that would have been my guess—not spinach, but, X marks the spot: mushrooms.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute, Miansari66 via Wikimedia Commons, BogHog and By User:Slashme and User:Mikael Häggström (Self-made using bkchem and inkscape) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

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