Regular consumption of mushrooms has been linked to a lower incidence of cancer

Can Mushrooms Help You Fight Cancer?

Can Mushrooms Help You Fight Cancer?

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Some people love mushrooms. Others, not so much. But love them or hate them, a recent study suggests that regular consumption of mushrooms has been linked to a lower incidence of cancer.

For centuries, Asian culture has turned to the healing benefits of mushrooms, with several varieties becoming a diet staple and used in medicine. Dense in nutrients that are good for our whole body, including dietary fibers, minerals and B vitamins, mushrooms also contain pharmacologically active compounds that bolster the immune system.

Recently, the journal Advances in Nutrition published research from Pennsylvania State University showing that cancer risk could potentially be lowered by nearly 45% simply by eating two medium-sized mushrooms every day. The analysis was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 17 observational studies published between 1966 and 2020 to examine the link between cancer risk and high intake of mushrooms.

The results seem positive, and researchers believe the presence of antioxidants may be the key to the cancer-fighting properties of mushrooms. "Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector," said Djibril M. Ba, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine. "Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer."

Which mushrooms fight cancer?

You may be asking yourself, "What are the best mushrooms to fight cancer risks?" To help you find the answer, we'll look at three types of mushrooms that have been making headlines lately but have been revered for generations: turkey tail, reishi and chaga.

Turkey tail mushrooms

Mushrooms growing on dead logs may not sound appetizing, but these colorful mushrooms that look like the tail of the Thanksgiving day bird pack quite the immune-boosting punch. Rich in antioxidants and polysaccharopeptides, turkey tail mushrooms have everything you need to bolster your health and possibly even help lower your risk of certain cancers.

Reishi mushrooms

Used by Chinese physicians for centuries to promote longevity, Reishi mushrooms have earned themselves the title of "Mushroom of Immortality." The extracts of these fungi have potent antiviral and antibacterial properties that help improve immune function. Reishi mushroom extracts are also known to contribute to your body's ability to protect itself from infections and cancers while also reducing your risk of inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Chaga mushrooms

Grown primarily on birch trees in cold climates, like northern Europe, Asia, and North America, Chaga mushrooms have proven to be powerful immunomodulators. In one study, mice were treated with a drug that inhibits immune system activity. However, those that also received Chaga extract had their immune cells levels return almost back to normal. In additional preclinical studies, chaga mushrooms were also shown to encourage antiviral activity against a wide range of viruses.



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