Last updated on Oct 27th, 2020 at 11:55 am

Pink punnets ‘mushroom’ onto Pick n Pay’s fresh produce shelves nationally.
R1 from each punnet of 250g whole white and sliced white button mushrooms is donated to Ditto Prosthesis Project.

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An external breast prosthesis may be the best option a woman has if she cannot afford reconstructive surgery…

The reality is that many breast cancer patients in South Africa cannot even afford a bra, let alone a breast prosthesis.

Every year, for the past 10 years, mushroom punnets turn pink on supermarket shelves during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. All in aid of breast cancer support group Reach for Recovery’s Ditto Prosthesis Project.

This remarkable initiative provides silicone prostheses to women who have not only suffered the trauma of breast cancer but have lost a breast(s) and cannot afford to undergo reconstructive surgery.

Ditto Prosthesis Project

“The Ditto Project is unique in its aim to help underprivileged women recover their self-confidence by providing them with high-quality silicone breast prostheses,” explains Reach for Recovery’s Management Board Chairperson, Stephné Jacobs.

“Our volunteer members, who are all breast cancer survivors themselves bring a ray of hope to breast cancer patients in state hospitals. They not only provide much needed emotional support, they also provide them with life changing practical support: Silicone prostheses which are properly fitted to ensure that the patients get the correct shape and size for their bodies.”

95% of the funds for Reach for Recovery’s Ditto Prostheses Project comes from the Power of Pink campaign which runs throughout October.

Why you should buy pink mushroom punnets

Pink punnets ‘mushroom’ onto Pick n Pay’s fresh produce shelves nationally. R1 from each punnet of 250g whole white and sliced white button mushrooms is donated to Ditto Prostheses project.

Mushrooms are your natural ally against breast cancer
Mushrooms are your natural ally against breast cancer

How are mushrooms & breast cancer connected?

Mushrooms are thought to be particularly effective against breast and other hormone-related cancers because they inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which produces oestrogen.

Several types of mushrooms including white buttons and portobello varieties, have indicated strong anti-aromatase activity.

So, can tossing some sliced mushrooms onto your salad help reduce your risk of breast cancer? “Yes,” says City of Hope’s Shiuan Chen, Ph.D. and Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute.

“Mushrooms contain compounds that prevent estrogen levels from getting too high. Since estrogen is a factor in 70 percent of all breast cancer cases, maintaining healthy levels of the hormone makes sense as a preventative measure.”

Key findings of research studies on mushrooms and cancer

Researchers at the University of Western Australia discovered in their study that the women who ate at least 10 grams of white button mushrooms per day were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer.

An emerging body of science suggests that higher intakes of vitamin D may be associated with lower risks for some cancers, including prostate, breast, lung, colon and colorectal cancers. Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that naturally contains vitamin D, a nutrient which many people lack.

Scientists of the opinion that natural compounds in mushrooms inhibit aromatase enzymes in the body, proteins that stimulate the production of estrogen, which can promote growth of some cancers, including breast cancer.

Mushrooms might also help prevent cancer by providing natural antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals (naturally occurring chemicals that can damage cells’ DNA and initiate the cancer process) and help to repair damage that has already occurred. In some laboratory studies, mushrooms displayed even more antioxidant power than tomatoes and carrots.

The leading groups researching the cancer fighting potential of mushrooms are:

  • The Beckman Institute at the City of Hope Cancer Centre in California under leadership of Prof Chen
  • The University of Australia in Sydney in collaboration with the medical faculty at the Zhejiang University in China

While research is ongoing and clinical trials are continuing, one clear fact has come to light:  Women who eat an average of 1 mushroom per day (10g) reduce their chances of breast cancer by 64%.

Ross Richardson Chairperson_The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association

Power of Pink campaign

“With many breast cancer research studies conducted around the globe stretching from western Australia to California,” adds SAMFA chairperson, Ross Richardson, “seemingly confirming that mushrooms may have breast cancer-fighting properties, we are delighted to add our voice to Breast Cancer Awareness. Our Power of Pink October campaign offers an outstanding opportunity to make a real difference to the well-being of South African women who have been adversely affected by breast cancer.”

Stephné is passionate about the positive impact of the Power of Pink fundraising campaign on the success achieved by Reach for Recovery’s Ditto Prostheses Project. She believes that women in low-income categories, diagnosed with breast cancer, deserve the same access to support services as anyone else as these could be life saving, literally and figuratively. “No one can understand the self-esteem, financial and family challenges these breast cancer survivors face unless they have walked a mile in their shoes. Our members understand that journey all too well and through the Power of Pink they have the capacity to assist these women in reshaping their lives.”

So, look out for the 250g punnets of whole and sliced white button mushrooms in their pretty pink packaging on Pick n Pay’s shelves this October.

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.