Consuming mushrooms several times a week might help lower a man’s risk of prostate cancer (PCa), according to new research published in the International Journal of Cancer.

In a study of 36,499 Japanese men (ages 40-79 years) from the Miyagi and Ohsaki cohorts, PCa developed in 1204 (3.3%) over a median 13 years. Men older than 50 years who habitually consumed mushrooms once or twice a week or, better yet, 3 or more times per week had 8% and 17% lower risks of PCa, respectively, than men who ate mushrooms less than once weekly. The association persisted regardless of PCa stage or intake of vegetables, fruit, meat, or dairy products. The study lacked information on intake of dietary supplements.

“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, in a journal news release.

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Large amounts of the antioxidants L-Ergothioneine and glutathione reportedly exist in shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms, the investigators noted. White button mushrooms are thought to have anti-cancer activity. In addition, preliminary studies indicate that extracts of mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei, Agaricus bisporus, Trametes versicolor, Cordyceps militaris, and Coprinus comatus inhibit cell proliferation in PCa cell lines and possibly restrict progression to castration-resistant disease, the investigators wrote.

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Zhang S, Sugawara Y, Chen S, et al. Mushroom consumption and incident risk of prostate cancer in Japan: A pooled analysis of the Miyagi Cohort Study and the Ohsaki Cohort Study [published online September 3, 2019]. Int J Cancer. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32591

“Eating mushrooms may help lower prostate cancer risk (news release).” Wiley; September 5, 2019.