SEP 15, 2019 6:40 PM PDT

Can eating mushrooms reduce the risk of prostate cancer?

Now here’s a question: have you eaten your mushrooms yet today? Although mushrooms may not be one of the typically-touted snacks in the healthcare world, new research published in the International Journal of Cancer suggests there may be an association between eating mushrooms and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Can eating mushrooms reduce the risk of prostate cancer? Photo: Pixabay

While previous studies have demonstrated that mushrooms may have anti-cancer compounds capable of slowing tumor growth, there has been very little investigation in human trials regarding the consumption of mushrooms and its impacts on prostate cancer.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first cohort study indicating the prostate cancer-preventive potential of mushrooms at a population level,” write the authors.

Japanese researchers analyzed data from the Miyagi Cohort Study and the Ohsaki Cohort Study, which followed a total of 36,499 Japanese men between the ages of 40 and 79 years for approximately 13.2 years. According to the participants’ consumption of mushrooms, the researchers divided them into five categories:

  • almost never: 6.9% of participants
  • one or two times each month: 36.8%
  • one or two times each week: 36.0%
  • three or four times each week: 15.7%
  • almost every day: 4.6%

Even after controlling for factors such as a family history of cancer, alcohol and tobacco use, and diet, the researchers found a significant positive association between mushroom consumption and reducing the risk of prostate cancer. As explained by Medical News Today, “Compared with those who ate mushrooms less than once a week, those who ate mushrooms one or two times each week had an 8% lower relative risk of prostate cancer. Those who ate mushrooms three or more times each week had a 17% lower relative risk.”

It is important to keep in mind that the positive benefit of mushroom consumption was only noted in men older than 50 and that even for those who ate a lot of mushrooms, the incidence of prostate cancer is only 0.31% greater than for those men who ate the fewest mushrooms. The authors caution that while "habitual mushroom intake might help to reduce prostate cancer risk, further studies in other populations and settings are required to confirm this relationship."

Sources: Medical News Today, International Journal of Cancer

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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