I have been trying to consume less meat, especially when I visit my favorite chop bar in Kumasi to eat fufu. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, so when I discovered they were suddenly on the menu, I was excited! I heard they're healthy, but I'd never looked into it. So, as I ate my delicious mushroom dish, I decided to do some quick research on them. What's more, guess what? I discovered that mushrooms have a plethora of health benefits! I've compiled some of my findings in this article for anyone else interested in learning more about the health benefits of mushrooms.
I found this study titled “Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Low Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observation Studies” by Djibril Ba, Paddy Ssentongo, Robert Beelman, Xiang Gao, and John Richie.
Ba et al. (2021) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies to assess the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk. The researchers searched various databases for relevant studies and included 17 studies totaling 19,621 cancer cases and 353,425 participants. Higher mushroom consumption was associated with a lower risk of cancer overall (pooled relative risk: 0.89, 95% confidence interval: 0.82-0.96) and specifically with a lower risk of breast cancer (pooled relative risk: 0.85, 95% confidence interval: 0.75-0.96), according to the meta-analysis.
Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide, including Ghana. Despite the advancements in medical research and treatment, the incidence of breast cancer remains high, highlighting the need for preventive measures. The above-mentioned study and a few other studies suggest that eating mushrooms may lower the risk of breast cancer.
What are mushrooms?
Mushrooms are edible fungi that have long been consumed for their nutritional and medicinal properties. These mushrooms are preferred for different reasons such as shapes, sizes, colors, taste, attractiveness, used as substitutes for meat or fish, aroma and medicinal values, and are used in a wide variety of dishes around the world. Mushrooms like Termitomyces spp, Volvariella volvacea (straw mushroom), Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom), and Lentinula edodes (shiitake mushroom) are popular in Ghana for their flavor and nutritional value according to Obodai, M. (2001) in her study, “An ethnobotanical study of mushroom germplasm and its domestication in the Bia biosphere reserve.”
Mushrooms and Breast Cancer
Mushrooms have been shown to have several health benefits, including their potential to prevent cancer. These Investigations suggest that consuming mushrooms may reduce the risk of breast cancer by ways such as regulating hormones, enhancing immunity, and reducing inflammation.
Some studies have found that mushrooms can help regulate hormones and may reduce the risk of breast cancer. A Japanese study discovered that regular mushroom consumption was linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, possibly due to the hormone-regulating properties of certain mushroom compounds (Nagata et al., 2008).
Shiitake mushrooms, in particular, have compounds that have been shown to inhibit estrogen production in the body (Chen et al., 2016). Oyster mushrooms have also been discovered to contain compounds that regulate estrogen levels and may reduce the risk of breast cancer (Liu et al., 2014).
These results imply that increasing the consumption of mushrooms, particularly shiitake and oyster mushrooms, may be an effective method for balancing hormones and lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Several studies have suggested that mushrooms can boost the immune system and potentially lower the risk of cancer. Kim et al., 2007, in a Korean study discovered that consuming a mushroom extract increased the activity of natural killer cells, which play an important role in identifying and destroying abnormal cells that may develop into cancer.
Other research has found that certain mushroom compounds, such as beta-glucans, can boost the immune system's ability to recognize and eliminate abnormal cells (Hetland et al., 2008).
These findings suggest that including mushrooms in the diet, particularly those high in beta-glucans, may be an effective strategy for boosting the immune system and lowering the risk of cancer especially breast cancer.
A higher risk of cancer has been associated with chronic inflammation. It has been demonstrated that mushrooms contain substances that can lessen inflammation and possibly reduce the risk of cancer. A study done in Iran discovered that patients with breast cancer who consumed oyster mushrooms had lower levels of inflammation indicators according to Haghighi et al., 2020.
According to findings from another study, chemicals contained in mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms, can reduce the amount of inflammatory cytokines produced (Jeong et al., 2012).
These findings suggest that eating more mushrooms, particularly oyster mushrooms, may be beneficial for reducing inflammation and possibly lowering the risk of cancer.
Other Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms have several health benefits aside from their ability to prevent breast cancer.
According to Apetorgbor et. al., 2006, The most common Termitomyces species recorded in Ghana are Termitomyces globulus, T. schimperi, T. robustus, T. reticulates, T. microcarpus and T. clypeatus, and these have a wide range of medicinal uses such as blood tonic, for malnourished children suffering from kwarshiokor (a protein deficiency condition), and also in the treatment of rheumatism and diarrhea.
Mushrooms are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthy addition to any diet. They also contain antioxidants, which can protect the body from free radical damage. They have also been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar levels.
The evidence suggests that consuming mushrooms may lower the risk of breast cancer by regulating hormones, enhancing immunity, and reducing inflammation. Additionally, mushrooms have several other health benefits that make them a valuable addition to any diet. Including mushrooms in the diet may be a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
But the potential health benefits of mushrooms don't stop there. Mushrooms are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, selenium, and potassium. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and immune function, while selenium has antioxidant properties that can help protect against cell damage. Potassium, meanwhile, is important for heart health and can help regulate blood pressure.
In addition to these nutrients, mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, which are types of soluble fiber that can help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. This makes mushrooms a great addition to any diet, especially for those looking to support their immune system or manage chronic inflammation.
Below is the nutritional value and composition of cooked, boiled, drained, and unsalted white mushrooms per 100 grams (3.5 ounces). The table lists various nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and the percentage of the recommended daily value (% DV) they provide. Additionally, the table lists the quantity of water in grams present in 100 grams of mushrooms.
|White mushrooms, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||117 kJ (28 kcal)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||0% 0 μg|
|Thiamine (B1)||9% 0.1 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||25% 0.3 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||30% 4.5 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||44% 2.2 mg|
|Vitamin B6||8% 0.1 mg|
|Folate (B9)||5% 18 μg|
|Vitamin B12||0% 0 μg|
|Choline||4% 19.9 mg|
|Vitamin D||4% 21 IU|
|Vitamin E||0% 0 mg|
|Vitamin K||0% 0 μg|
|Calcium||1% 6 mg|
|Copper||25% 0.5 mg|
|Iron||13% 1.7 mg|
|Magnesium||3% 12 mg|
|Manganese||5% 0.1 mg|
|Phosphorus||12% 87 mg|
|Potassium||8% 356 mg|
|Selenium||19% 13.4 μg|
|Zinc||9% 0.9 mg|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It is important to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional for any medical or diet concerns or questions. The content in this article should not be used as a substitute for professional medical/dietician advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The author does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided and will not be liable for any errors or omissions, or any actions taken based on the information provided. By accessing this article, you acknowledge and agree that the author will not be held responsible for any actions you may take based on the information provided on this write-up. It is your responsibility to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any actions related to your health.
My articles serve an educational and informational purpose only, and should not be considered medical advice for treatment. The primary goal is to provide the public with evidence-based and scientifically proven naturopathic therapies in order to educate and inform.
The writer has a Bsc. Health Services Administration from the University of Ghana, Mini-MBA in Complementary & Alternative Healthcare Leadership, Professional Certificate in Naturopathic Medicine, and a Professional Diploma in Medical Journalism from the Nyarkotey University College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT). He also has a COTVET accredited Body Massage Certificate. E-mail: [email protected]
Djibril Ba, Paddy Ssentongo, Robert Beelman, Xiang Gao, John Richie, Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Low Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observation Studies, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 4, Issue Supplement_2, June 2020, Page 307, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzaa044_006
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