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Supplements for Cancer: Green Tea continued...

Because it would take the equivalent of drinking 10 to 12 cups of green tea each day to obtain the cancer-fighting levels of green tea compounds, Birdsall recommends that his patients take green tea in extract form. Be aware, there are some concerns about green tea extracts and liver toxicity. Also, a recommendation of 10 to 12 cups of green tea per day would be for cancer treatment, not cancer prevention.

Drinking green tea may increase the survival rates of some cancer patients. One study of women with ovarian cancer found that women who drank green tea were more likely to survive three years after ovarian cancer diagnosis than women who did not drink green tea. The survival rates increased with higher consumption levels of green tea.

Drinking green tea may also help prevent certain cancers. Preliminary research suggests a possible protective effect against bladder, esophageal, pancreatic, ovarian, and possibly cervical cancer, even with as little as 3-5 cups a day. Evidence for breast, stomach, and lung cancer is mixed: studies have conflicting findings.

Supplements for Cancer: Mushroom Products

Extracts from mushrooms have been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. More recent scientific studies are beginning to determine reasons for their potential health-promoting actions.

For example, polysaccharides (phytochemicals) from the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom have been shown to inhibit the growth and invasiveness of some cancer cells in the laboratory, including certain forms of breast cancer.

Other fungal varieties that may exhibit anti-cancer activity include reishi, shiitake, maitake and coriolus or turkey tail, mushrooms.

Lentinan, a substance found in shiitake mushrooms, has been shown in the lab to inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells in mice. This may result from lentinan’s ability to inhibit some enzymes that promote the activity of cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. Beta-glucan, a compound found in maitake mushrooms, is also thought to have tumor-fighting properties, though data on these abilities is still quite limited.

Keep in mind that the studies so far have looked at how these mushroom extracts affect cancer cells in the lab, with only a few documenting the effects in the human body. More research is needed.

Supplements for Cancer: Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances found in abundance in fruits and vegetables – and in lesser amounts in nuts, grains, and meat. These phytochemicals fight certain oxygen molecules in your body known as free radicals, which can damage DNA and contribute to the development and proliferation of cancerous cells.

Common antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, certain compounds in green tea and melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain.

The use of antioxidants for cancer prevention and treatment is a controversial and confusing topic. Although experts once believed that megadoses of certain antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, might be beneficial, clinical studies have raised questions about the safety of this practice. Studies have shown that high doses of certain antioxidants can increase cancer occurrence in some populations. For instance, smokers who take high doses of beta carotene are at increased risk for lung cancer.

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