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Scientists found that women consuming at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day were 64 per cent less likely to develop a tumour.

Dried mushrooms had a slightly less protective effect, reducing the risk by around half.

The study, carried out in China, also showed women who combined a mushroom diet with regular consumption of green tea saw an even greater benefit.

The risk among women in this group was reduced by almost 90 per cent.

Researchers say the latest findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, do not prove eating mushrooms will stop cancer and more studies are needed to confirm the results.

But laboratory tests on animals do show the fungi have anti-tumour properties and can stimulate the immune system's defences.

Some evidence suggests mushrooms act in a similar way to breast cancer drugs called aromatose inhibitors, which blocks the body's production of the hormone oestrogen, which can encourage the development of cancer.

Last month, scientists in California began a trial to see if taking mushroom extract twice a day for a month helps breast cancer survivors remain free of the disease.

Around 40,000 women a year in Britain are diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease affects one in nine women at some point in their lives and diet is thought to be a key factor.

Rates of the disease in China are four to five tines lower than in some western countries.

The new study, by a team at the University of Western Australia in Perth, looked at more than 2,000 Chinese women.

Approximately half the women had suffered breast cancer.

After taking account of other factors that could have contributed to cancer, such as being overweight, lack of exercise and smoking, scientists analysed eating habits and came up with the finding on mushrooms.

A separate study of 52,700 men and women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that a vegetarian diet may help to protect against cancer

Researchers at the University of Oxford divided people aged 20 to 89 into meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans and found a lower rate of cancer among fish-eaters and vegetarians compared with meat-eaters.


Reference Source 162
March 19, 2009
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