Can Eating Mushrooms Help Prevent Cancer?

Islamabad: Japanese researchers have discovered an unusual link between consumption of mushrooms and a reduced risk of suffering from prostrate cancer.

Japaneses researchers have reportedly conducted a recent study with focus on the association between eating mushrooms and reduced risk of prostrate cancer in men. While the effect is relatively small, researchers believe this will lead to further studies in the future.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 174,650 cases of prostrate cancer are predicted in 2019 in the United Stated alone. Consequently, while there has been improvement in treatment for prostrate cancer there is no conclusive cure till date which may help to prevent it. However, scientific evidence proves that healthy eating habits may help reduce the risk of cancer. It has also been debated that if scientists can identify dietary interventions, reduction in risk may make a substantial difference.

Scientific evidence proves that healthy eating habits may help reduce the risk of cancer. It has also been debated that if scientists can identify dietary interventions, reduction in risk may make a substantial difference.

 

Recently the findings of a study carried out on mushrooms have been published in the International Journal of Cancer. Given the fact that mushrooms are a widely consumed food item throughout the world, recent studies have become inclined towards identifying its potential for fighting diseases. Based on a review on mushrooms in 2012, it was inferred that certain compounds in mushrooms have anticancer, anti-inflammatory as well as anti-diabetic properties, respectively. Moreover, it has been discovered that extracts from certain mushroom species can slow down process of tumor growth in both cultured and animal cells.

According to the research team, so far only one human trial has been carried out to study the link between prostrate cancer and white mushrooms. The team inferred that for some participants, the mushroom extract was able to reduce levels of prostrate specific antigen (PSA) as well as boosting the body’s immune response to cancer. Additionally, since the study is the first of its kind, researchers have investigated the link between mushroom consumption and prostrate cancer on the basis of data taken from the Miyagi Cohort Study and the Ohsaki Cohort Study, respectively.

The team inferred that for some participants, the mushroom extract was able to reduce levels of prostrate specific antigen (PSA) as well as boosting the body's immune response to cancer.

Based on statistics, the research team had access to data of approximately 36,499 Japanese men between the ages of 40 to 79 years. Through the course of the study, the individuals were observed for almost 13.2 years during which they had to fill out questionnaire’s related to the following:

  • Diet,
  • Medical history,
  • Levels of physical activity,
  • Education,
  • Smoking & Drinking Habits
  • Other(s).

After generating information acquired by means of the questionnaires, the individuals were then divided into groups of five based on their consumption of mushrooms:

  • Almost Never: 6.9% (participants)
  • One or two times a month: 36.8% 
  • once or twice in a week: 36.0%
  • three to four times in a week: 15.7%
  • almost everyday: 4.6%

Approximately 1,204 cases of prostrate cancer were identified in the follow-up period. The cases equate to an almost 3.3% of the total number of participants. Once the confounding variable had been controlled, the researchers were able to observe a significant beneficial effect. It was inferred that the participants who ate mushrooms more than once in a week had an 8% lower risk of suffering from cancer in comparison to those who ate mushrooms once or less in a week. Similarly, the individuals who consumed mushrooms three or more times had an approximate 17% lower risk for cancer.

According to the study authors, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first cohort study indicating the prostate cancer-preventive potential of mushrooms at a population level”. Moreover, upon further investigation it was inferred that the link was even more significant if other factors such as family’s medical history, alcohol intake and tobacco use as well as consumption of coffee were taken into consideration. The researchers further adjusted the analysis with regards to the amount of energy, meat, fruits and vegetables, and/or dairy products were consumed by each participant. It was concluded that while eating mushrooms lead to a reduction in the risk of acquiring prostrate cancer, eating vegetables in general did not necessarily yield the same results.

It was concluded that while eating mushrooms lead to a reduction in the risk of acquiring prostrate cancer, eating vegetables in general did not necessarily yield the same results.

 

However, point to be noted is that the increased risk in prostrate cancer between participants who ate the fewest mushrooms as compared to those who ate the most is only 0.31% with the effect(s) mostly relevant to men 50 years or older. The research team concluded that this may be due to the fact that instances of suffering from prostrate cancer are far more rare in younger men as compared to older men.

 

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