PA—Higher mushroom consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer, according to a new study from Penn State.

The meta-analysis, published inAdvances in Nutrition,used data from 17 cancer studies published from 1966 to 2020, using data from more than 19,500 cancer patients. The findings: Individuals who ate 18g of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not eat 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."

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Type of mushroom didn’t matter, the researchers found, nor did type of cancer. The researchers noted the greatest association between mushrooms and lowered risk of breast cancer, but also pointed out that most of the studies didn’t include other forms of cancer.

"Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer," said coauthor John Richie, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and Professor of public health sciences and pharmacology. "Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted."