Hundreds of studies have looked at the potential of mushrooms to prevent and treat cancer, and green tea is widely used in the world as a health booster. Could mushrooms and green tea together provide an added benefit for cancer protection? Are other foods also valuable for cancer prevention?

A recent case-control study published in the International Journal of Cancer looked at the intake of mushrooms and green tea in 1,009 pre- and postmenopausal Chinese women with breast cancer and compared this with a matched group of 1,009 healthy Chinese women without breast cancer.

The findings: Women who regularly ate fresh mushrooms and also drank green tea had a much lower cancer risk than women who consumed neither.

How might mushrooms and green tea reduce cancer risk? Among other things, mushrooms contain lentinian, a compound that stimulates the immune system, which in turn can slow tumor growth. Green tea contains polyphenols called catechins that may help to stop the spread and invasion of cancer cells to healthy tissues.

A cautionary note: This study does not prove cause and effect. Other cancer-reducing factors may have been present. It is too early to assume that ingesting both green tea and mushrooms will reduce breast cancer.

Some cancer researchers estimate that 50 percent or more of cancers could be prevented with better nutrition.

So what can you do to reduce your risk of cancer or reduce your risk of cancer recurrence after treatment? (And with these changes, you’ll reduce your risk of other diseases as well.) Try the following:

• Add mushrooms to your daily diet when you can.

• Drink two or three cups of green tea a day.

• Reduce your intake of animal food, especially fatty meats that have been raised with hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.

• Eat as much produce as you can – blue, purple, red, orange, yellow and green fruits and veggies are loaded with nature’s antioxidants. Shoot for eight to 10 servings per day.

• Get your omega-3s from fish, fish oil capsules or ground flaxseed.

• Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar.

• Consider cooking with turmeric, a spice that is widely used in India, where the cancer rate is much lower than in the United States.

(Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter’s Downtown Integrative Medicine program. They have written “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Secrets of Longevity” ($18.95, Alpha/Penguin Books). Have a question related to alternative medicine? E-mail

(c) 2009, The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.).

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-17-09 0800EDT

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