Higher mushroom consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer, according to a new Penn State study. The systematic review and meta-analysis examined 17 cancer studies published from 1966 to 2020. Analysing data from more than 19,500 cancer patients, researchers explored the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk.
Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. The team's findings show that these super foods may also help guard against cancer. Even though shiitake, oyster, maitake and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of the amino acid ergothioneine than white button, cremini and portobello mushrooms, the researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer. According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of 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 Djibril M Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine. "Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer."
When specific cancers were examined, the researchers noted the strongest associations for breast cancer as individuals who regularly ate mushrooms had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer. Ba explained that this could be because most of the studies did not include other forms of cancer. Moving forward, this research could be helpful in further exploring the protective effects that mushrooms have and helping to establish healthier diets that prevent cancer.
"Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer," said co-author John Richie, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences and pharmacology. "Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted."
Paddy Ssentongo, Joshua Muscat, Robert Beelman and Xiang Gao from Penn State also contributed to this research. The researchers declare no conflicts of interest or specific funding support.
Higher Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies
Djibril M Ba, Paddy Ssentongo, Robert B Beelman, Joshua Muscat, Xiang Gao, John P Richie
Published in Advances in Nutrition on 16 March 2021
Mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds. The potential health benefits associated with mushroom intake have gained recent research attention. We thus conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the association between mushroom intake and risk of cancer at any site. We searched MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library to identify relevant studies on mushroom intake and cancer published from 1 January, 1966, up to 31 October, 2020. Observational studies (n = 17) with RRs, HRs, or ORs and 95% CIs of cancer risk for ≥2 categories of mushroom intake were eligible for the present study. Random-effects meta-analyses were conducted. Higher mushroom consumption was associated with lower risk of total cancer (pooled RR for the highest compared with the lowest consumption groups: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.55, 0.78; n = 17). Higher mushroom consumption was also associated with lower risk of breast cancer (pooled RR for the highest compared with the lowest consumption groups: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.81; n = 10) and nonbreast cancer (pooled RR for the highest compared with the lowest consumption groups: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.97; n = 13). When site-specific cancers were examined, a significant association with mushroom consumption was only observed with breast cancer; this could be due to the small number of studies that were conducted with other cancers. There was evidence of a significant nonlinear dose–response association between mushroom consumption and the risk of total cancer (P-nonlinearity = 0.001; n = 7). Limitations included the potential for recall and selection bias in case-control designs, which comprised 11 out of the 17 studies included in this meta-analysis, and the large variation in the adjustment factors used in the final models from each study. The association between higher mushroom consumption and lower risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, may indicate a potential protective role for mushrooms in the diet.