Large, Long-term Study Suggests Link Between Eating Mushrooms and A Lower Risk of Prostate Cancer

Results from the first long-term cohort study of more than 36,000 Japanese men over decades suggest an association between eating mushrooms and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Their findings were published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland — a small walnut-shaped gland found only in men, which produces the fluid that forms part of the semen — start to grow out of control. It is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting men, with over 1.2 million new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, the risk increasing with age.

Mushrooms are widely in used in Asia, both for their nutritional value and medicinal properties.

“Test-tube studies and studies conducted on living organisms have shown that mushrooms have the potential to prevent prostate cancer,” said Shu Zhang, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Health Informatics and Public Health at Tohoku University School of Public Health, Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and lead author of the study.

“However, the relationship between mushroom consumption and incident prostate cancer in humans has never been investigated before.”

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first cohort study indicating the prostate cancer-preventive potential of mushrooms at a population level,” said Zhang. “Although our study suggests regular consumption of mushrooms may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, we also want to emphasize that eating a healthy and balanced diet is much more important than filling your shopping basket with mushrooms.” said Zhang.

For this study, the researchers monitored two cohorts consisting of a total of 36,499 men between the ages of 40 and 79 years in Miyagi and Ohsaki, Japan, from 1990 and 1994 respectively. The follow-up duration for the Miyagi cohort extended from June 1, 1990 to December 31, 2014 (24.5 years), while the follow-up duration for the Ohsaki cohort extended from January 1, 1995 to March 31, 2008 (13.25 years). The men were asked to complete a questionnaire related to their lifestyle choices, such as mushroom and other food consumption, physical activity, smoking and drinking habits, as well as provide information on their education, and family and medical history.

Long-term follow-up of the participants indicated that consuming mushrooms on a regular basis reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men, and was especially significant in men aged 50 and older and in men whose diet consisted largely of meat and dairy products, with limited consumption of fruit and vegetables. Statistical analysis of the data (using the Cox proportional hazards model) indicated that regular mushroom consumption was related to a lower risk of prostate cancer regardless of how much fruit and vegetables, or meat and dairy products were consumed. Of the participants, 3.3% developed prostate cancer during the follow-up period. Participants who consumed mushrooms once or twice a week had an 8% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who ate mushrooms less than once per week, while those who consumed mushrooms three or more times per week had a 17% lower risk than those who ate mushrooms less than once a week.

According to Zhang, “mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially L-ergothioneine” — which is believed to mitigate against oxidative stress, a cellular imbalance resulting from poor diet and lifestyle choices and exposure to environmental toxins that can lead to chronic inflammation that is responsible for chronic diseases such as cancer.

“The results of our study suggest mushrooms may have a positive health effect on humans,” said Zhang. “Based on these findings, further studies that provide more information on dietary intake of mushrooms in other populations and settings are required to confirm this relationship.”

“Considering the average American consumes less than 5 grams of mushrooms per day, which is lower than that consumed by the participants in this study (7.6 g/day) one would expect that even a small increase in mushroom consumption to offer potential health benefits,” said Zhang.

Source: Tohoku University School of Public Health

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Eating Mushrooms May Help Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer found an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and the development of prostate cancer among middle-aged and elderly Japanese men, suggesting that regular mushroom intake might help to prevent prostate cancer.

A total of 36,499 men, aged 40 to 79 years who participated in the Miyagi Cohort Study in 1990 and in the Ohsaki Cohort Study in 1994 were followed for a median of 13.2 years. During follow-up, 3.3% of participants developed prostate cancer. Compared with mushroom consumption of less than once per week, consumption once or twice a week was associated with an 8% lower risk of prostate cancer and consumption three or more times per week was associated with a 17% lower risk.

“Since information on mushroom species was not collected, it is difficult to know which specific mushroom(s) contributed to our findings. Also, the mechanism of the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remains uncertain,” said lead author Shu Zhang, PhD, of the Tohoku University School of Public Health, in Japan.

Source: Science Daily

Study: Eating Mushrooms Protect Brain Health

Maria Cohut wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) near Clementi hypothesized that eating mushrooms could help preserve cognitive function in late adulthood. So, they conducted a new study to see whether they could find any evidence in this respect.

Their findings — which now appear in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease — suggest that the mushrooms common in Singaporean cuisine may help reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The study lasted 6 years, from 2011 to 2017, and it included 663 participants aged 60 and older at baseline. The researchers recruited them through the Diet and Healthy Aging project.

The investigators focused on the consumption of some of the most common mushrooms that people in Singapore eat:

  • golden mushrooms
  • oyster mushrooms
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • white button mushrooms
  • dried mushrooms
  • canned button mushrooms

The team defined mushroom portion sizes as three-quarters of a cup of cooked mushrooms per portion, weighing about 150 grams, on average.

To gauge the association between eating mushrooms and MCI risk, the researchers also measured the participants’ cognitive abilities.

According to first study author Lei Feng, who is an assistant professor at NUS: “People with MCI are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. So, what we had to determine in this study is whether these [people] had poorer performance on standard neuropsychologist tests than other people of the same age and education background.”

“Neuropsychological tests are specifically designed tasks that can measure various aspects of a person’s cognitive abilities. In fact, some of the tests we used in this study are adopted from commonly used IQ test battery, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale,” he adds.

The team also conducted targeted interviews and asked the participants to undergo a series of tests measuring aspects of physical and psychological functioning. “The interview,” Feng states, “takes into account demographic information, medical history, psychological factors, and dietary habits.”

Then, he continues, “A nurse will measure blood pressure, weight, height, handgrip, and walking speed.” Participants “also do a simple screen test on cognition, depression, anxiety.”

Finally, the team conducted 2-hour assessments of each person’s neuropsychological health and rated them on a dementia symptom scale.

‘A dramatic effect on cognitive decline?’

The researchers’ analysis revealed that eating more than two portions of cooked mushrooms per week could lead to a 50 percent lower risk of MCI. Feng says that “[t]his correlation is surprising and encouraging.”

“It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline.” – Lei Feng

This is only a correlative observation, but the team believes that there may be a causal relationship involved.

Study co-author Dr. Irwin Cheah notes that the scientists are “very interested in a compound called ergothioneine (ET), […] a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesize on their own.”

However, “it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms.” The idea that ET may have a direct effect on the risk of cognitive decline, Dr. Cheah explains, came from a previous study that appeared in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

That research found that people with MCI had lower blood levels of the compound than healthy peers of the same age. Also, the researchers note, mushrooms contain many other substances whose exact role in brain health is not yet clear.

These include hericenones, erinacines, scabronines, and dictyophorines — a series of compounds that could contribute to the growth of neurons (brain cells).

Substances derived from edible mushrooms could also inhibit the production of beta-amyloid and phosphorylated tau, two toxic proteins whose overaccumulation in the brain coincides with the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In the future, the researchers would like to conduct randomized controlled trial testing the effect of ET and other plant-derived compounds on brain health — specifically verifying their protective role against cognitive decline.

Source: Medical News Today

How the Lowly Mushroom is Becoming a Nutritional Star

Robert Beelman wrote . . . . . . . .

Mushrooms are often considered only for their culinary use because they are packed with flavor-enhancers and have gourmet appeal. That is probably why they are the second most popular pizza topping, next to pepperoni.

In the past, food scientists like me often praised mushrooms as healthy because of what they don’t contribute to the diet; they contain no cholesterol and gluten and are low in fat, sugars, sodium and calories. But that was selling mushrooms short. They are very healthy foods and could have medicinal properties, because they are good sources of protein, B-vitamins, fiber, immune-enhancing sugars found in the cell walls called beta-glucans, and other bioactive compounds.

Mushrooms have been used as food and sometimes as medicine for centuries. In the past, most of the medicinal use of mushrooms was in Asian cultures, while most Americans have been skeptical of this concept. However, due to changing consumer attitudes rejecting the pharmaceutical approach as the only answer to healing, that seems to be changing.

I study the nutritional value of fungi and mushrooms, and my laboratory has conducted a great deal of research on the lowly mushroom. We have discovered that mushrooms may be even better for health than previously known. They can be excellent sources of four key dietary micronutrients that are all known to be important to healthy aging. We are even looking into whether some of these could be important in preventing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Four key nutrients

Important nutrients in mushrooms include selenium, vitamin D, glutathione and ergothioneine. All are known to function as antioxidants that can mitigate oxidative stress and all are known to decline during aging. Oxidative stress is considered the main culprit in causing the diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.

Ergothioneine, or ergo, is actually an antioxidant amino acid that was initially discovered in 1909 in ergot fungi. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Ergo is produced in nature primarily by fungi, including mushrooms. Humans cannot make it, so it must be obtained from dietary sources. There was little scientific interest in ergo until 2005, when pharmacology professor Dirk Grundemann discovered that all mammals make a genetically coded transporter that rapidly pulls ergo into the red blood cells. They then distribute ergo around the body, where it accumulates in tissues that are under the most oxidative stress. That discovery led to a significant increase in scientific inquiry about possible role of ergo in human health. One study led to a leading American scientist, Dr. Solomon Snyder, recommending that ergo be considered as a new vitamin.

In 2006, a graduate student of mine, Joy Dubost, and I discovered that edible cultivated mushrooms were extremely rich sources of ergo and contained at least 10 times the level in any other food source. Through collaboration with John Ritchie and post-doctoral scientist Michael Kalaras at the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, we showed that mushrooms are also a leading dietary source of the master antioxidant in all living organisms, glutathione. No other food even comes close to mushrooms as a source of both of these antioxidants.

Our current research is centered on evaluating the potential of ergo in mushrooms to prevent or treat neurodegenerative diseases of aging, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We based this focus on several intriguing studies conducted with aging Asian populations. One study conducted in Singapore showed that as people aged the ergo content in their blood declined significantly, which correlated with increasing cognitive impairment.

The authors suggested that a dietary deficiency of ergo might predispose individuals to neurological diseases. A recent epidemiological study conducted with over 13,000 elderly people in Japan showed that those who ate more mushrooms had less incidence of dementia. The role of ergo consumed with the mushrooms was not evaluated but the Japanese are known to be avid consumers of mushrooms that contain high amounts of ergo.

More ergo, better health?

One important question that has always begged an answer is how much ergo is consumed in the diet by humans. A 2016 study was conducted that attempted to estimate the average ergo consumption in five different countries. I used their data to calculate the estimated amount of ergo consumed per day by an average 150-pound person and found that it ranged from 1.1 in the U.S. to 4.6 milligrams per day in Italy.

We were then able to compare estimated ergo consumption against mortality rate data from each country caused by the common neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. We found, in each case, a decline in the death rates with increasing estimated ergo consumption. Of course, one cannot assume a cause and effect relationship from such an exercise, but it does support our hypothesis that it may be possible to decrease the incidence of neurological diseases by increasing mushroom consumption.

If you don’t eat mushrooms, how do you get your ergo? Apparently, ergo gets into the food chain other than by mushroom consumption via fungi in the soil. The fungi pass ergo on to plants grown in the soil and then on to animals that consume the plants. So that depends on healthy fungal populations in agricultural soils.

This led us to consider whether ergo levels in the American diet may be harmed by modern agricultural practices that might reduce fungal populations in soils. We began a collaboration with scientists at the Rodale Institute, who are leaders in the study of regenerative organic agricultural methods, to examine this. Preliminary experiments with oats have shown that farming practices that do not require tilling resulted in significantly higher ergo levels in the oats than with conventional practices, where tillage of the soil disrupts fungal populations.

In 1928 Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin produced from a fungal contaminant in a petri dish. This discovery was pivotal to the start of a revolution in medicine that saved countless lives from bacterial infections. Perhaps fungi will be key to a more subtle, but no less important, revolution through ergo produced by mushrooms. Perhaps then we can fulfill the admonition of Hippocrates to “let food be thy medicine.”

Source: The Conversation

American Fast-food Restaurants Sonic Drive-In Add Blended Beef-mushroom Burgers to Their Menu

Dan Charles wrote . . . . . .

It’s a long way, metaphorically speaking, from the campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to the Sonic Drive-In burger joints that line America’s highways and small towns, particularly in the South.

Come Monday, though, two new items on Sonic’s menu will make that leap. They’re blended beef-mushroom burgers, a food that the institute has boosted through its “menus of change” initiative. According to the institute, this is the kind of menu change that’s “a powerful, and previously underappreciated, way to drive improvements in our health and our planet.”

The idea is that mixing chopped mushrooms into our burgers boosts the umami taste, adds more moisture and reduces the amount of beef required for a burger. And reducing the need for beef has a big impact on the environment. According to the World Resources Institute, if 30 percent of the beef in every burger in America were replaced by mushrooms, it would reduce greenhouse emissions by the same amount as taking 2.3 million vehicles off of our roads.

Sonic, though, isn’t stressing the saving-the-planet angle. In a press release, the company’s vice president of product innovation and development, Scott Uehlein, said that its new blended cheeseburgers, which contain 25 percent mushrooms, will “deliver the juicy savory deliciousness you expect from a burger in a way that makes you feel like you’re getting away with something.”

The company promises that people eating the burger will get all this flavor but “none of the guilt” but does not reveal whether the guilt reduction will come from cutting calories or greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard Waite, from the World Resources Institute, is thrilled. “I think it’s great!” he says. WRI has been pushing the blended beef-mushroom burger as a candidate to become one of America’s most-served menu items, which WRI calls “power meals.” According to Waite, the list of the top 20 meals served by food service companies currently contains only one plant-based item, a veggie wrap. The rest are meat-centric, including four versions of the classic hamburger.

Many niche burger makers and school cafeterias have joined the blended burger bandwagon. In the dining rooms of Stanford University, Waite says, it’s the only kind of burger you’ll find. But Sonic’s 3,500 drive-in restaurants represent a huge boost to the concept.

Source: npr


Read more about the Menus of Change initiative by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health . . . . .