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Mushrooms May Protect Men from Prostate Cancer

Middle-aged Japanese men who eat mushrooms often have a significantly lower likelihood of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Mushrooms May Protect Men from Prostate Cancer
Edible mushrooms on a green background, white mushroom. Collect forest mushrooms. Autumn harvest of mushrooms.

Prostate cancer is a complex disease. No single factor determines whether a man will be diagnosed with it or not. However, diet might play a protective role, according to some recent research. Among the unlikely stars on the plate: mushrooms (International Journal of Cancer, Sept. 4. 2019).

How Mushrooms in the Diet Affect Prostate Cancer Risk in Japan:

Scientists conducting a long-term study have reported that mushrooms in the diet may lower the chance of prostate cancer. They have been following 36,499 Japanese men for more than a decade. Japanese people love the taste of mushrooms and believe they have health benefits. As a result, Japanese cooks utilize several different distinctive varieties, such as shiitake and maitake, in popular dishes.

What Is the Evidence?

The researchers did studies both in test tubes and on animals. Both lines of research indicated that compounds in the edible fungi have anti-prostate cancer properties.

Some of the men participated in the study for up to 25 years. During that time, they answered questions about their dietary habits, medical history, smoking, exercise and other elements of lifestyle. Men over 50 who reported consuming mushrooms most frequently were 17 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. If they ate a fungi-rich dish at least three times a week, they lowered their risk of diagnosis by as much as 30 percent.

The investigators concluded:

“The present study showed an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and incident prostate cancer among middle‐aged and elderly Japanese men, suggesting that habitual mushroom intake might help to prevent prostate cancer.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Zhang S 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, Sept. 4. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32591
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