Women are believed to be protected from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by estrogen, so postmenopausal women with lower estrogen levels have an increased chance of developing the disease. Their risk is even higher if they are on anti-estrogen therapy. Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) is is an early stage of NAFLD which can lead to cirrhosis, but is not related to alcohol use.
Several species of mushrooms, such as white button (Agaricus bisporus), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) and Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), reduce cholesterol in blood and liver. White button mushrooms (WBM) account for 90% of the mushrooms used in the U.S. The authors have found that WBM inhibit aromatase, the enzyme that helps convert androgens to estrogen, and inhibits estrogen-positive breast cancer cells (which overproduce aromatase). Conjugated linoleic acid* (CLA) is a component of the anti-aromatase activity.
In spite of concern that a reduction of estrogen could make NAFLD worse in postmenopausal women, a recent study found that ovariectomized mice fed a high fat diet and WBM powder had normal livers compared to mice not given the WBM powder. The study lasted for 3 months. The mice fed WBM had livers that were smaller and had less damage than those not fed WBM. The WBM group had livers with less fatty accumulation and better insulin sensitivity.
CONCLUSION: White button mushroom powder shows a protective effect in ovariectomized mice against fatty liver, a model for post-menopausal women.
NOTES: *Conjugated linoleic acid is available in most large health food stores.
Mushrooms should be cooked to get their maximum medicinal effect.
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