By Chrissy Sexton Earth.com staff writer
The experts set out to investigate the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk by analyzing previous research.
The meta-analysis was focused on 17 cancer studies published from 1966 to 2020, including data from more than 19,500 cancer patients.
Mushrooms are considered to be a superfood because they are loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. While they are known to promote a healthy immune system and boost bone health, the results of the new study suggest that mushrooms may also help guard against cancer.
The researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer.
“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector,” said study lead author Djibril M. Ba. “Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer.”
Shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms were found to have the highest amounts of ergothioneine.
The experts determined that individuals who consumed 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45 percent lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat mushrooms.
When specific cancers were examined, the researchers found the strongest associations with breast cancer. Ba explained that this could be because many of the studies were focused on breast cancer, and not other cancers.
“Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer,” said study co-author Professor John Richie. “Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted.”
The study is published in the journal Nutrition.