Button mushrooms are being tested as a treatment to stop breast and prostate cancers recurring. Researchers believe that extract of the fungi may prevent or delay the development of further cancers. Previous studies have shown that the extract acts in a similar way to antibreast cancer drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body to make oestrogen, a hormone most breast tumours require to grow.
The mushroom extract also contains a natural compound known as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which may help block the damage which leads to prostate cancer.
In two trials at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in California, prostate cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer survivors will take the extract twice a day for a month. If there has been no progression of the disease, they will continue with the treatment.