Eating Mushrooms May Reduce Cancer Risk

Participants who ate 18 grams of mushrooms a day had a 45% lower risk of developing cancer compared to those who do not eat them.

Researchers observed a link with eating mushrooms and a lower risk of developing cancer — specifically breast cancer — potentially indicating a role for mushrooms in the diet, according to data published in the American Society for Nutrition.

Mushrooms have gained recent research attention due to their potential health benefits. They are full of bioactive compounds such as fiber, vitamins and certain antioxidants which may have an impact on reducing the risk for cancer, according to the study’s introduction. In this current study, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to observe the potential association between mushroom consumption and the risk of cancer at any site in 19,732 participants with cancer from 17 observational studies.

Compared with participants with lower mushroom consumption, those with higher mushroom consumption was associated with a lower risk of total cancer. Researchers found that participants who consumed 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower chance of developing 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,” said Dijibril M. Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine and lead author of this study, in a press release. “Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer.”

When site-specific cancers were assessed, a higher mushroom consumption was significantly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer only. Researchers said this could be due to the small amount of studies that were conducted with other cancer types. There were fewer than six studies for each cancer specific type compared to 10 studies specific to breast cancer.

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

Limitations of the study include combining studies from distinct population results in an inequality of study populations and 11 of the studies used a case-control design, which is subject to recall and selection bias.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.