Eating two mushrooms a day can lower cancer risk by 45%

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, which is why they have been used in oriental medicine for centuries to treat various diseases. The belief is that there are chemical compounds in mushrooms that strengthen the immune system. Now the Chinese theory is gaining Western scientific support: a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University in the United States suggests that eating 18 grams of mushrooms a day can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

According to the article, published in the scientific journal Advances in Nutrition, individuals who eat two medium-sized mushrooms a day have a 45% lower risk of developing cancer compared to those who do not eat mushrooms regularly. The research analyzed 17 studies on cancer, carried out between 1966 and 2020, with more than 19,500 patients with the disease.

Mushrooms have a lot of antioxidants.Source:  Pixabay

What does the mushroom have?

“Mushrooms are the main dietary source of ergothionein, which is a potent antioxidant and unique cell protector,” explained to the SCMP website Djibril Ba, post-graduate student in Epidemiology at the College of Medicine Penn State. His team found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their diets had a lower risk of cancer. “Replacing antioxidants in the body can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of cancer,” said Ba.

According to the article, shitake, oyster, maitake and king oyster varieties have higher amounts of ergothionein than white button mushrooms, mushrooms and portobello. Ingestion of edible mushrooms had a stronger association with lower risk of breast cancer – the team believes that this fact is related to many of the studies analyzed not including other forms of the disease.

“Overall, these findings provide important evidence of the mushrooms’ protective effects against cancer,” said co-author John Richie, professor of Public Health Sciences and Pharmacology at the university, in the same interview. “Future studies are needed to better identify the mechanisms involved and the specific cancers that may be affected,” he added.

Can you prepare lunch now?

The team urged caution in interpreting the research, classifying the findings as “interesting.” “It’s important to consider mushroom intake within the broader context of an individual’s dietary and physical activity-related behaviors,” warned Helen Croker, head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund, to the SCMP.

A variety of foods are part of a healthy diet.A variety of foods are part of a healthy diet.Source:  Pixabay

For Croker, more comprehensive examinations of the impact of lifestyle factors on cancer risk find some evidence that consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of various types of cancer – and may also reduce the likelihood of gaining weight in excess, which is a strong risk for many types of cancer. The researcher pointed out that it is important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for maximum benefits.

Sam Miller, head of nutrition at Pure Nutrition, in Hong Kong, was a bit skeptical of the results. For him, the research suggests that those who ate no mushrooms were very likely to eat fewer vegetables overall. The scientist suggests eating more fruits and vegetables and not getting your hopes up on one or two miracle foods. “The weight of evidence shows they don’t exist and there isn’t a food that will make you really healthy,” he said.

British nutritionist Fareeha Jay, who specializes in South Asian diets, said the research should be done with “a pinch of salt” – because it was based on analysis of observational studies and did not demonstrate cause and effect. “With such promising results, we must include mushrooms in our daily diet, but also make sure we are including whole grains, fiber, vegetables and fruits, as they can also be protective against certain types of cancer,” she added.

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, which is why they have been used in oriental medicine for centuries to treat various diseases. The belief is that there are chemical compounds in mushrooms that strengthen the immune system. Now the Chinese theory is gaining Western scientific support: a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University in the United States suggests that eating 18 grams of mushrooms a day can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

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