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Eating mushrooms three times weekly slashes chance of developing prostate cancer by 17%

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Eating mushrooms three times a week slashes the chance of developing prostate cancer by nearly a fifth, according to research.The power of fungi to fight cancer was highlighted by Japanese researchers. While the study did not suggest a mechanism, one theory is that mushrooms contain compounds that suppress a male hormone that promotes the growth of prostate cancer. They studied more than 36,000 men, aged between 40 and 79, over 13 years for the research. Even eating them once or twice a week reduced the risk by eight per cent, the researchers said.

But those who ate mushrooms three times a week reduced their risk by 17 per cent. The effect was especially pronounced in men aged 50 or older, and in those with a relatively low fruit and vegetable intake as well as a high meat and dairy intake.

The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.Lead author Shu Zhang, a PhD student at the Tohoku University School of Public Health in Japan, said: “Participants who consumed mushroom more frequently tended to be older, have a family history of cancer, spend more time walking and have a higher intake of meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy products and energy. They were also less likely to be current smokers.”

She added, however, “the mechanism of the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remains uncertain.”Prostate cancer ranks as the second-most common cancer, and the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in men.

Although there is no cure, healthy eating habits have been suggested as a means of lowering the risk. Mushrooms have a long history of being used in Asian medicines but the potential health benefits have only emerged in recent decades, with an increasing number of studies suggesting that they could help anti-inflammation and antioxidation.

Zhang added: “Since information on mushroom species was not collected, it is difficult to know which specific mushrooms contributed to our findings. Also, the mechanism of the beneficial effects of mushrooms on prostate cancer remains uncertain.” Previous research in laboratory cell cultures by City of Hope hospital near Los Angeles found that extract of white button mushrooms suppressed the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which promotes the growth of prostate cancer.

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