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Eating More Mushrooms Reduces Cancer Risk, a Study Finds

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Nov 07, 2021

Eating More Mushrooms Reduces Cancer Risk, a Study Finds

If there’s a surefire way to prevent cancer, perhaps, we’d all be interested in doing it. But, as it is, experts say we can only reduce our risk through early detection, exercise, and diet. Interestingly, a recent study revealed that mushrooms reduce cancer risk by up to 45%. Here’s how we’re another step closer to beating the “Big C.”

Penn State study says eating more mushrooms reduce cancer risk

A new study published in Advances in Nutrition examined decades-worth of cancer papers and analyzed data from nearly 20,000 cancer patients. The goal? The researchers wanted to know if there’s a relationship between eating mushrooms and cancer risk.

Their findings didn’t disappoint.

The team found out that people who consumed 18 grams of mushrooms each day had a 45% lower risk of developing cancer than those who did not eat mushrooms.

As for the specific kinds of cancer, the researchers said there was a strong association between mushroom consumption and breast cancer risk reduction. However, they agreed that it must be because the majority of the studies didn’t include other cancer types.

Early Signs of Breast Cancer to Watch Out For

How can mushrooms potentially reduce cancer risk?

While the amount of mushrooms mattered, it seemed like the type did not. Experts explain that mushrooms, in general, are rich in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that help promote health.

Specifically, they are rich in:

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin we can get from healthy sunlight exposure, Vitamin D maintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

Interestingly, a deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to various diseases, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancers of the ovary, prostate, and breast.

One possible way how Vitamin D in mushrooms helps reduce cancer risk is its ability to induce apoptosis or cell death. You see, the loss of apoptosis control “allows cancer cells to survive longer.”


A type of amino acid, ergothioneine, is a potent antioxidant and cell protector. It helps protect cells from damaging oxidative stress.

The study mentioned that mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine.


Some observational studies reported that people with increased selenium levels in their diet and body tissues had a lower risk of developing cancer. Laboratory studies also showed that this naturally occurring element could also inhibit cancer cell growth.

How to add more mushrooms to your diet to potentially reduce cancer risk

Eighteen grams is just the equivalent of 18 paper clips, so adding more mushrooms to your diet may not be that big of a problem.

You can add them to your salad, sandwiches, and soups. Mushrooms are also versatile as you can incorporate them in veggie or meat-based meals.

Researchers identified shitake, maitake, oyster, and king oyster mushrooms to have higher amounts of ergothioneine. However, having other types like cremini, button, and portabello is also helpful.

As long as you purchase them from trusted sources and cook them accordingly, you’ll never run out of ways to add mushroom to your everyday meals.

Of course, don’t forget to take into account allergies and other contraindications. If you’re unsure, consult your doctor first.

How Diet Plays a Role in Colorectal Cancer Risk Reduction

Other ways to reduce cancer risk

Besides eating mushrooms, don’t forget that there are other ways to reduce your cancer risk:

Diet and Exercise: Have a healthy, balanced diet filled with veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Limit your consumption of saturated fats and red meat. Physical activity has also been linked to reduced breast and colon cancers.

Avoid smoking: If you smoke, consider quitting. Plus, be mindful of second-hand smoke as it is also a factor.

Maintain a healthy weight: Strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Experts say obesity is a risk factor for many forms of cancer.

And finally, don’t forget to undergo routine check-ups and immediately consult a doctor if you experience unexpected or unexplained symptoms. That way, you can detect problems early on and intervene appropriately.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

John Paul Abrina, MD

Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Nov 07, 2021

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