Anti-Cancer Effects of Onions and Mushrooms

mushroomsThanks to one one of our readers for sending in this informative article; Anti-Cancer Effects of Onions and Mushrooms written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman for last week.

While cruciferous vegetables (such as kale, collards and broccoli) have been stealing the spotlight for their highly touted anti-cancer properties. New research is now revealing that onions and mushrooms have previously unrecognized but potent anti-cancer effects.


The Allium family of vegetables, which includes onions, garlic, leeks and scallions, are known to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects.

Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. These vegetables contain protective substances called organosulfur compounds, which are released when the vegetables are chopped, crushed or chewed. These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth and preventing tumors from obtaining a blood supply.3

In addition to the organosulfur compounds, onions also contain high concentrations of flavonoids, which are a class of antioxidant molecules that includes isoflavones, flavonols, catechins and anthocyanins among others. Red onions contain at least 25 different anthocyanins, and the predominant flavonoid in all onions is quercetin.Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells. In short, flavonoids such as quercetin can contribute to preventing damaged cells from advancing to cancer. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.


Mushrooms have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting properties. Mushrooms contain polysaccharides that are thought to inhibit tumor growth and viral infection by stimulating immune cells. Compounds in shiitake mushrooms have been shown to trigger programmed cell death in breast cancer cells. In case control studies, consuming mushrooms regularly has been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women. Frequent consumption of mushrooms decreased the risk of breast cancer by up to 60-70%.Similar associations were observed in studies on stomach and colorectal cancers.


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