The more often men consume mushrooms, the lower their risk of prostate cancer may be according to new research from Japan. Investigators followed 36,499 men between the ages of 40 and 79 for a median of 13.2 years during which 3.3 percent of the group developed prostate cancer. The researchers found that men who consumed mushrooms once or twice a week had an eight percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those who ate them less than once a week. Eating mushrooms more often – three or more times per week – was associated with a 17 percent lower risk of the disease. The researchers didn’t collect information on the types of mushrooms the men consumed so they didn’t identify which ones they believed were responsible lowering the risk of the disease. Lead author Shu Zhang, Ph.D. of Japan’s Tohoku University School of Public Health also said that the mechanism by which mushrooms provide benefits remains uncertain.
My take? These are very interesting and welcome findings. The researchers theorized that one of the components that may play a role in prostate cancer prevention is l‐ergothioneine, an antioxidant, which might mitigate oxidative stress/damage. l‐Ergothioneine reportedly is present in large amounts in shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, maitake mushrooms and king oyster mushrooms, all of which contain considerable amounts of the antioxidant glutathione. I first learned about the medicinal benefits of mushrooms in the 1970s when I began reading about Chinese medicine and about research in China and Japan where traditional doctors esteem fungi as both food and medicine. I became a great believer in the immune-enhancing and cancer-protective properties of shiitake, oyster mushrooms, maitake, enoki, and other Asian species.
Shu Zhang 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.” International Journal of Cancer, September 4, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/ijc.32591