Did you know that certain Superfoods might help fight cancer? This Cancer-Fighting Roasted Mushroom and Thyme recipe was inspired by a recent trip to City of Hope, a cancer research hospital. Recently, I had the amazing opportunity, along with an intimate group of women (including Lisa Stone, co-founder and CEO of BlogHer), to spend the day at City of Hope, a cancer research hospital and treatment center, located in Duarte, California. Each of us has been touched in some way by cancer, either directly or through someone we know.
Almost all of us have been touched by cancer, whether it’s a family member, someone from the community we live in, or the work place. My personal experience includes my dad who had colon cancer and six women in my life who have had different types of cancer. In fact, Jeanette’s Healthy Living was inspired by two friends I lost to cancer – one of my co-workers who had breast cancer ten years ago and a woman in my community who had stomach cancer six years ago.
Over the past ten years, I have been cooking for friends and people in my community with cancer. Three years ago, at the behest of my dear husband, I started this blog as a place to record the very foods I was preparing for friends with cancer. I have been on a journey ever since to learn more about foods that might help prevent and/or fight cancer and other diseases. You see, I believe in Food as Medicine. So, when the unique opportunity to spend the day at City of Hope arose, I jumped at it. I’ve been dreaming of becoming involved with an organization that studies Food as Medicine.
Upon our arrival, we were each asked to write a word on a City of Hope Badge that exemplifies what inspires us. The word that came to me…FAITH. Why you might ask? Because in each and every case where I have had the privilege to help someone with cancer, faith has played a huge role. Faith helped my Dad beat colon cancer. Faith has helped my friends get through their cancer treatments. Faith has helped me be a supportive friend. Faith has given my friends and me the hope that they will be healed one day, whether here on earth or in heaven. So, what is City of Hope you might ask. City of Hope started in 1913, and has evolved from two tents caring for tuberculosis patients, to a full-fledged medical facility serving people with cancer. City of Hope is recognized worldwide for its innovative science, with the ability to rapidly turn research into new therapies, and for their compassionate care.
As a non-profit, City of Hope can offer more natural ways to treat cancer, which could ultimately be less expensive and less toxic compared to more traditional cancer drugs. What makes City of Hope unique is that their sprawling facilities, located on 100+ acres, house cutting edge research facilities across the lawn from their cancer treatment, enabling them to integrate science, clinical research and patient care on the same campus.
Upon obtaining the proper FDA approvals, they have the ability to literally take what they learn in a lab, manufacture therapies on campus and bring that across the street to the clinic to make an immediate impact. This unique set-up enables City of Hope to move incredibly fast from the time an idea is conceived to bring that idea to fruition on the patient care side. Just to give you an example, it takes City of Hope an average of 5 years from start to finish versus other institutions that might take 10-15 years.
In addition, City of Hope’s team of patient navigators, pain and palliative care physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social works, spiritual care chaplains, and child life specialists provide an embracing support for patients, serving as an international model of compassionate care. With a mission to care for the “whole person” – body, mind and spirit, City of Hope provides comprehensive support for the patient and their family. City of Hope’s research doctors, including Dr. John H. Yim, M.D. and Dr. Shiuan Chen, PhD. have been studying several Superfoods that may have the ability to combat cancer without affecting healthy tissue. So far, Dr. Yim and Dr. Chen have identified promising cancer-fighting compounds in these Superfoods:
- pomegranates fight breast cancer
- mushrooms fight breast, prostate and lung cancer, and promote healthy metabolism
- blueberries fight tripe-negative breast cancer
- cinnamons stunts growth of tumors
- grape seed extract fights breast cancer
Several of these Superfoods (pomegranates, mushrooms and grapesseed extract) contain compounds with the ability to block the enzyme aromotase, which plays a key role in producing estrogen, a hormone that fuels many breast cancers. Since 70% of breast cancers need estrogen to grow, Superfoods that suppress aromotase can help prevent cancer. In addition to these Superfoods, Eastern Medicine is also being explored as something that might work in conjunction with cancer treatment to minimize the effects of chemotherapy and help slow cancer grown. Dr. Yim is conducting research on the effects of a Chinese herb (Huang qin) in the treatment of cancer. Baicalein has been identified as the key component in Huang qin, that may help fight cancer with fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Interestingly, baicalein is also found in smaller quantities in the herb thyme. Inspired by my trip to City of Hope, I came up with this Cancer-Fighting Roasted Mushrooms and Thyme recipe. Although I know so little compared to these incredibly intelligent doctors at City of Hope, I am ready to help in however small way I can. I made this the other night for a friend with breast cancer, and have been prodding her to eat more Superfoods. Although there is no “magic bullet” to prevent or cure cancer, a balanced, healthy lifestyle is key to lowering risk. Superfoods such as pomegranates, blueberries, grapeseeds and mushrooms can be a gateway to improving our overall diet and living a healthier lifestyle. Much work still needs to be done, but I am hopeful that one day, with the continued work that City of Hope is doing, we will beat cancer the natural way.
- 10 ounces fresh mushrooms, any kind, halved
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss mushrooms, olive oil, thyme and sea salt in a medium bowl. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until just tender.
Be sure to hop over to my fellow blogger friends who also took part in this amazing trip: Jaden from Steamy Kitchen, Elise from Simply Recipes, Catherine from Weelicious, Carrie from Carrie On Vegan, and Cheryl from Black Girl Chef’s Whites.
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