Turkey Tail vs. the World’s Most Common Cancer

Your Very Own Medicine is Your Very Own Backyard

“She had stage four breast cancer. The doctor gave her less than three months to live.” 

Paul Stamets – mycologist, entrepreneur, and author of multiple medicinal fungi and mycoremediation books – took a grave phone call from his 84-year-old mother in June of 2009. She told him that her right breast was five times the size of her left, among other severe conditions. 

After a few examinations, Paul’s mom discovered that she had a 5.5 centimeter diameter tumor that had spread to her sternum and liver. She was too old to have her breasts removed or begin radiation treatment.

The doctor even stated that her case was the “second worst case of breast cancer she has seen as a doctor in twenty years of practice.” 

According to WCRF International and breastcancer.org, breast cancer takes first place as the most common cancer in the world. It currently accounts for 12.5% of all new annual cancer cases.

As a last resort, the doctor recommended that Paul’s mom look into a study about turkey tail mushrooms held at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Conveniently enough – her son is a supplier of these mushrooms.

Known for his books such as Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms (1993), and Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (2005), Paul has spent the vast majority of his life researching the medicinal benefits of a wide range of fungi. Mostly self taught in the field of mycology, he received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Natural Medicine and now has a sizable amount of recognitions to include the Award for Contributions to Amateur Mycology from the North American Mycological Association and the Invention Ambassador Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

As long as there was hope for recovery, Paul was not going to let his mom’s diagnosis stop her from trying.

“She started taking eight turkey tail capsules a day, four in the morning and four in the evening.” 

According to UCLA Health, the turkey tail mushroom contains active compounds called polysaccharide krestin (PSK) and polysaccharopeptide (PSP), which have been studied in patients with breast, gastric, lung, and colorectal cancer. Research shows that these compounds provide the human body with an increase in monocytes, a specific white blood cell known for fighting infections.

The turkey tail mushroom is also known to (1) inhibit tumor growth with minimal negative side effects to other bodily systems and (2) increase beneficial gut bacteria, supporting overall bodily health. These recent findings have shocked scientists – as countless studies have proven that traditional cancer treatments can be extremely harmful, and oftentimes fatal, to their patients. 

But here’s some great news: this cancer-treating fungus can be found in our very backyard – at no cost to you! Plenty of people forage turkey tail mushrooms worldwide. These medicinal mushrooms grow comfortably in a woodland environment, thriving on dead hardwood stumps and fallen hardwood trunks or branches. 

Japan has been using the turkey tail mushroom for decades, treating not only breast cancer but also lung, gastric, pancreatic and liver cancer. Some researchers believe that further studies will show that the turkey tail mushroom can potentially treat HPV and inflammation as well as improve athletic performance, provide antibacterial qualities, and enhance insulin resistance.

“…And today, my mother has no detectable tumors.” 

Watch Paul tell this story: Paul Stamets at TEDMED 2011




Breast Cancer Facts and Statistics 2024, www.breastcancer.org/facts-statistics. Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.

“Breast Cancer Statistics: World Cancer Research Fund International.” WCRF International, 14 Apr. 2022, www.wcrf.org/cancer-trends/breast-cancer-statistics.

May, Madeline. “Turkey Tail Mushrooms.” Lung Cancer Center, 15 Sept. 2023, www.lungcancercenter.com/news/turkey-tail-mushroom-cancer/. 

Stamets, Paul. “Trametes Versicolor (Turkey Tail Mushrooms) and the Treatment of Breast Cancer.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890100/. 

“Turkey Tail Mushrooms Act as Nonspecific Immune Modulators.” UCLA Health, www.uclahealth.org/news/turkey-tail-mushrooms-act-as-nonspecific-immune-modulators. Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.


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