To Lower Cancer Risk, Eat More Mushrooms?

To Lower Cancer Risk, Eat More Mushrooms?
"Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer," says Djibril M. Ba. (Credit: Bryony Elena/Unsplash)

Eating more mushrooms is associated with lower risk of cancer, according to a new study.

The systematic review and meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition examines 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020. Analyzing data from more than 19,500 cancer patients, researchers explore the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk.

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. The team’s findings show that mushrooms may also help guard against cancer. Even though shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of the amino acid ergothioneine than white button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, the researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer.

According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms.

“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector,” says Djibril M. Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine. “Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer.”

When specific cancers were examined, the researchers noted the strongest associations for breast cancer as individuals who regularly ate mushrooms had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer. Ba explains that this could be because most of the studies did not include other forms of cancer. Moving forward, this research could be helpful in further exploring the protective effects that mushrooms have and helping to establish healthier diets that prevent cancer.

“Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer,” says coauthor John Richie, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences and pharmacology. “Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted.”

About the Authors

The researchers declare no conflicts of interest or specific funding support. - Original Study

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