Eating This One Thing Can Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half, New Study Says

If you eat enough of this daily, you could be lowering your chances of cancer.

The food we put into our bodies has the ability to affect our health over time, but it's not just about cutting harmful foods out of your diet. While it's true that overdoing it on sweets and fast food can have negative effects, there are also foods you should be eating to keep yourself healthy. In fact, one new study has found that eating a certain food can cut your cancer risk in half. Read on to find out what you should be adding to your diet, and for more ways to monitor your risk, If You Notice This on Your Skin, You Could Be at Risk for 13 Cancers.

Eating mushrooms can lower your cancer risk by nearly half.

Adult man stand at kitchen table and talk on phone. He taste piece of mushroom. Man look down. Colorful vegetables lying on desk
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Researchers from Penn State sought to determine the relationship between mushroom consumption and cancer risk, publishing their findings March 16 in the Advances in Nutrition journal. The researchers analyzed more than 19,500 cancer patients by reviewing 17 cancer studies published between 1966 and 2020. According to the new study, people who ate 18 grams of mushrooms every day had a 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer than those who did not eat mushrooms.

"Overall, these findings provide important evidence for the protective effects of mushrooms against cancer," study co-author John Richie, PhD, a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences and pharmacology, said in a statement. And for things to avoid ingesting, If You Drink This Every Day, Your Heart Could Be in Danger, Study Finds.

The study found the greatest reduced risk was for breast cancer.

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When looking at specific cancers, the researchers found that the association between breast cancer and mushroom consumption was the strongest. In fact, people who ate mushrooms daily had a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer. Study co-author Djibril M. Ba, MPH, a graduate student in epidemiology at Penn State College of Medicine, explained in a statement that this may be because most of the studies they reviewed did not include other specific types of cancer. "Future studies are needed to better pinpoint the mechanisms involved and specific cancers that may be impacted," Richie explained. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Mushrooms contain important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.

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Mushrooms are full of important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, but the researchers say one antioxidant in particular may explain the cancer risk reduction properties of mushrooms: ergothioneine. "Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine, which is a unique and potent antioxidant and cellular protector," Ba explained. "Replenishing antioxidants in the body may help protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of cancer." And while shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of ergothioneine than white bottom, cremini, and portobello mushrooms, the researchers say that adding any variety of mushrooms into your daily diet will lower your risk of cancer. And for more things to pay attention to when you're eating, If This Happens When You Eat or Drink, You Need Your Thyroid Checked.

Even eating mushrooms weekly may help lower some cancer risks.

Cooking healthy food. Hands holding champignon mushrooms, flat lay.
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If you're not willing to reach for 18 grams of mushrooms every day, you might at least consider eating this vegetable once a week. Another study published in 2019 in the International Journal of Cancer found that weekly mushroom consumption can help lower the risk of one specific type of cancer. For this study, researchers examined more than 36,000 men over the span of a decade and found that participants who ate mushrooms at least once or twice a week had an 8 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who ate mushrooms less than once a week. Even better, those who ate mushrooms three or more times a week had a 17 percent lower risk than those who ate mushrooms less than once a week.

"Considering the average American consumes less than 5 grams of mushrooms per day … one would expect that even a small increase in mushroom consumption to offer potential health benefits," study lead author Shu Zhang, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Health Informatics and Public Health at Tohoku University School of Public Health, said in a statement. And for more guidance on healthy eating, Never Eat Leftovers That've Been in the Fridge This Long, Experts Warn.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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