Study shows eating mushrooms linked to lower cancer risk

Research finds an association between eating mushrooms and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Study shows the power of mushrooms

Results from the first long-term study of more than 36,000 men over several decades suggest an association between eating mushrooms and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland – a small walnut-shaped gland found only in men and which produces the fluid that forms part of the semen – start to grow out of control.

It is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting men, with more than 1.2 million new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018. And the risk increases with age.

“Test-tube studies and studies conducted on living organisms have shown that mushrooms have the potential to prevent prostate cancer,” said Shu Zhang, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tohoku University in Japan, and lead author of the study.

“However, the relationship between mushroom consumption and prostate cancer in humans had never been investigated before.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first cohort study indicating the prostate cancer-preventive potential of mushrooms at a population level,” said Assoc. Prof. Zhang.

“Although our study suggests regular consumption of mushrooms may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, we also want to emphasise that eating a healthy and balanced diet is much more important than filling your shopping basket with mushrooms.”

For this study, the researchers monitored two cohorts consisting of a total of 36,499 men between the ages of 40 and 79 years in Miyagi and Ohsaki, Japan, from 1990 and 1994 respectively.

The follow-up duration for the Miyagi cohort extended from 1 June 1990 to 31 December 2014 (24.5 years), while the follow-up duration for the Ohsaki cohort extended from 1 January 1 1995 to 31 March 31 2008 (13.25 years).

The men were asked to complete a questionnaire related to their lifestyle choices, such as mushroom and other food consumption, physical activity, smoking and drinking habits, as well as provide information on their education, and family and medical history.

Long-term follow-up of the participants indicated that consuming mushrooms on a regular basis reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men and was especially significant in men aged 50 and older and in men whose diet consisted largely of meat and dairy products, with limited consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Statistical analysis of the data indicated that regular mushroom consumption was related to a lower risk of prostate cancer regardless of how much fruit and vegetables, or meat and dairy products were consumed.

Of the participants, 3.3 per cent developed prostate cancer during the follow-up period.

Participants who consumed mushrooms once or twice a week had an eight per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who ate mushrooms less than once per week, while those who consumed mushrooms three or more times per week had a 17 per cent lower risk than those who ate mushrooms less than once a week.

According to the author, mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially L-ergothioneine. The latter is believed to mitigate against oxidative stress, a cellular imbalance resulting from poor diet and lifestyle choices and exposure to environmental toxins that can lead to chronic inflammation and diseases such as cancer.

“The results of our study suggest mushrooms may have a positive health effect on humans,” said Assoc. Prof. Zhang. “Based on these findings, further studies that provide more information on dietary intake of mushrooms in other populations and settings are required to confirm this relationship.”

How many days per week do you consume mushrooms? Are you more likely to eat more mushrooms after reading these findings?

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    10th Oct 2019
    No surprises there - the benefits of MEDICINAL mushrooms have been used by people for thousands of years. They are just now becoming 'trendy'. Shitake, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Lions Mane are all beneficial in different ways to our bodies. Google them and get them into your daily diet. You'll be glad you did :)
    10th Oct 2019
    This study shows correlation that's all. More evidence is needed for example, which mushrooms were eaten? We already know that different mushrooms have different (possible) therapeutic properties so which mushrooms were eaten in this study? How much was required i.e. what is a portion? Were they cooked or raw, fresh or dried? If cooked, how were they cooked (e.g. does cooking with or without oil enhance or decrease their efficacy)?

    All mushrooms are grown in the dark but exposing them to sunlight after picking increases vitamin D. For example: one study compared several forms of organically grown shiitake mushrooms, which had starting level of 100 IU/100 grams. Researchers compared the vitamin D levels of three sets of mushrooms, all from the same crop. The first was grown and dried indoors. The second set was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing down. The third set of mushrooms was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing upwards for full sun exposure. The most vitamin D was found in shiitake dried with gills up that were exposed to sunlight for two days, six hours per day. The vitamin D levels in these mushrooms soared from 100 IU/100 grams to nearly 46,000 IU/100 grams. Their stems, though, produced very little vitamin D, only about 900 IU. Vitamin D levels dropped on the third day, probably due to over-exposure to UV.

    I mention this because without adequate vitamin D levels, your immune system is impaired. This is why cancer patients are often prescribed high daily doses of vitamin D, up to 4,000–10,000 International Units (IU), compared to the FDA recommended Daily Value (DV) dose of 400 IU for adults over 50 years in age. So could it be vitamin D in treated mushrooms that is providing the benefit or something else such as L-ergothioneine as the researchers hypothesise?

    The problem with this article is that it is poor reporting.The study is not named, there are no links to it and there is no reference to where the research was published. It does make reference to the outcomes as 'statistical analysis of the data indicated that regular mushroom consumption was related to a lower risk of prostate cancer". So outcomes not certain then!

    This study is interesting but far more needs to be investigated before people start eating one serve of mushrooms a week in the hope of warding off prostate cancer (or anything else).
    10th Oct 2019
    I agree with you KSS, I would love to know more information. Links would have been really helpful to be able to follow this out futher.
    17th Oct 2019
    How strange! When I had breast cancer 20 years ago, I was advised to keep away from mushrooms, as they are a fungus. Likewise, I was told that blue vein cheese was a no-no for the same reason! Maybe different foods for different cancers?

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