Eating Mushrooms May Help Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer found an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and the development of prostate cancer among middle-aged and elderly Japanese men, suggesting that regular mushroom intake might help to prevent prostate cancer.

A total of 36,499 men, aged 40 to 79 years who participated in the Miyagi Cohort Study in 1990 and in the Ohsaki Cohort Study in 1994 were followed for a median of 13.2 years. During follow-up, 3.3% of participants developed prostate cancer. Compared with mushroom consumption of less than once per week, consumption once or twice a week was associated with an 8% lower risk of prostate cancer and consumption three or more times per week was associated with a 17% lower risk.

According to Global Cancer Statistics 2018,1 prostate cancer ranks as the second‐most frequent cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in men. Although there is no sure way to prevent prostate cancer, maintaining healthy eating habits (e.g., consuming more vegetables and fruits) has been suggested as an approach that might lower the risk of prostate cancer.

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Mushrooms have a long history of being consumed as food and used in Asian medicines. However, research on the health effects of mushrooms has only emerged and been developed in recent decades. To date, an increasing number of in vivo and in vitro studies have suggested the beneficial effects of medicinal mushrooms on health, such as antioxidation, anti‐inflammation, immunomodulation, etc.

Additionally, mushrooms also reportedly have anticancer properties and effects against tumor development.4 In vivo and in vitro evidence has shown that mushrooms have the potential to prevent several kinds of cancers (e.g., those of the breast, bladder, colon and lung), including prostate cancer. Extracts of mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei Murill, Agaricus bisporus, Trametes versicolor, Cordyceps militaris and Coprinus comatus were suggested to inhibit cell proliferation in human prostate cancer cell lines and to restrict prostate tumorigenic progression from the hormone‐dependent to the hormone‐refractory state.

However, to the best of our knowledge, only one previous human study (a phase I trial) has investigated the biological activity of mushroom intake on prostate cancer recurrence. In that study, different doses of white button mushroom (i.e., Agaricus bisporus) powder were taken by biochemically recurrent prostate cancer patients. During the trial, decline in prostate‐specific antigen (PSA) levels, which is used as an indicator of disease recurrence, was observed in 36% of patients, suggesting that mushroom intake might modulate PSA levels in biochemically recurrent prostate cancer.

The above findings were taken to imply the probability that mushroom ingestion might also be promising in the prevention of prostate cancer among the general population. However, the relationship between mushroom consumption and the incident risk of prostate cancer has not been investigated as of yet. The aim of the present study was to estimate this relationship in middle‐aged and elderly Japanese men.

“Since information on mushroom species was not collected, it is difficult to know which specific mushroom(s) contributed to our findings. Also, the mechanism of the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remains uncertain,” said lead author Shu Zhang, PhD, of the Tohoku University School of Public Health, in Japan.

Journal Article

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