Harvard Men's Health Watch

Mushrooms may protect against prostate cancer

In the journals

A study published online Sept. 4, 2019, by the International Journal of Cancer showed a possible connection between regular mushroom consumption and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

The researchers recruited more than 36,000 men ages 40 to 79. They recorded various health information, such as physical activity, family and medical history, and diet. Information on diet included 39 foods and beverages. The men were then followed for a period ranging from 13 to almost 25 years.

The researchers found that men who consumed mushrooms once or twice a week — an average of about 3 ounces per serving — had an 8% lower risk of prostate cancer compared with those who ate no mushrooms. And among men who ate mushrooms three or more times per week, risk was 17% lower. Another upside: the link held regardless of the men’s intake of other vegetables and fruit or how much meat and dairy they consumed.

The findings cannot prove cause and effect, but the study’s authors suggest that mushrooms’ high levels of ergothioneine, an antioxidant and potential cancer preventive, may play a factor. Shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have the highest concentrations of ergothioneine.

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