White Button Mushrooms May Slow Progression of Prostate Cancer
White button mushrooms seem to suppress androgen receptors, according to the study's principal researcher, Xiaoqiang Wang, of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, a cancer center in Duarte, California. Androgen, a male sex hormone, promotes the growth of prostate cancer by activating the androgen receptor, a protein found in prostate cells.
What we've learned about mushrooms
The researchers analyzed the effect of white button mushroom extract on prostate cancer cells that were especially sensitive to androgen.
They also looked at the effect on lab mice artificially implanted with human prostate tumors. Lab mice were fed mushroom extract for six days. Researchers said mushrooms significantly suppressed the growth of prostate tumors during that time, and the mice's prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels fell.
Wang said that although more studies are needed, it's possible these mushrooms could contribute to the prevention of prostate cancer in the future. According to the U.S.-based Mushroom Council, white buttons are the most popular mushrooms in the country, making up approximately 90 percent of the mushrooms consumed.
Mushrooms vs. prostate cancer
The Endocrine Society study isn't the first to indicate the potential of mushrooms to prevent prostate cancer. A 2019 study published by the International Journal of Cancer demonstrated a potential connection between eating mushrooms regularly and a lowered risk of prostate cancer. The study looked at more than 36,000 Japanese men between the ages of 40 and 79, recording health information such as physical activity, diet and medical history.
The research indicated that men who consumed mushrooms once or twice per week had an 8 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than those who never ate mushrooms. Men who ate mushrooms three times or more each week had a 17 percent lower risk.
The study's findings were believed to be the first to show that mushrooms might actually prevent prostate cancer on a wide scale. The researchers did note, however, that a balanced diet is more important than eating mushrooms in every meal.
You don't like mushrooms?
If mushrooms are not high on your list of fun foods, you're in luck. Studies indicate a number of other foods have been shown to potentially lower the risk of prostate cancer, including:
Tomatoes. Lycopene, the antioxidant found in tomatoes, may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, according to research published in the journal Medicine in 2015.
Broccoli. This green vegetable has numerous complex compounds, especially sulforaphane, that can protect you from cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, studies suggest there is a link between a person's intake of cruciferous vegetables—which include broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower, among others—and a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Soybeans. Foods that contain soybeans, including tofu, lentils, peanuts and chickpeas, have a nutrient called isoflavones. Consumption of isoflavones may be linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer, according to a 2014 review of research published in the journal BJU International.
Fish. Certain fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines, provide "good fats" that don't trigger inflammation of the prostate in quite the same way as saturated animal fats. Researchers have identified inflammation within the prostate as a dangerous condition that can make it easier for cancer to take hold.
Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are all great sources of cancer-fighting and inflammation-reducing antioxidants. Antioxidants help counteract free radicals in the body, which are the byproducts of bodily reactions and could lead to prostate cancer over time.
While much more research is needed about the foods that could reduce your risk of prostate cancer, eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes any of the foods above should be celebrated as a step in the right direction.
And let's hear it loud for those white button mushrooms!