White button mushrooms may ‘significantly suppress’ prostate cancer

WASHINGTON — White mushrooms are a staple of countless dishes, and it’s no wonder why considering all of their health benefits. Now, a new study from the Endocrine Society finds yet another reason why every man should be adding white cap mushrooms to their shopping list. Researchers report these mushrooms may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

“Androgens, a type of male sex hormone, promote the growth of prostate cancer cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells,” says lead researcher Xiaoqiang Wang, M.D., Ph.D., M.B. (A.S.C.P.), of the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center in Duarte, Calif, in a media release. “White button mushrooms appear to suppress the activity of the androgen receptor.”

The study’s principal investigator, Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., discovered a similar link in earlier research. That report revealed white button mushroom powder may be capable of reducing levels of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood of recurrent prostate cancer patients. High PSA levels in a man’s blood often indicate the existence of prostate tumors.

Mushroom extract makes ‘significant’ cancer progress

Study authors set out to determine how white mushrooms accomplish this feat. The team analyzed the effect of the mushroom extract on prostate cancer cells that are particularly sensitive to androgen. Then, researchers also studied the extract’s effect in a group of mice artificially implanted with human prostate tumors.

Those experiments helped researchers observe that white button mushroom extract suppresses androgen receptor activity in prostate cancer cells. Lab mice received white mushroom extract for six days. During that time, researchers say mushrooms “significantly suppressed” prostate tumor growth and their PSA levels dropped.

“We found that white button mushrooms contain chemicals that can block the activity of the androgen receptor in mouse models, indicating this fungus can reduce PSA levels,” Wang concludes. “While more research is needed, it’s possible that white button mushrooms could one day contribute to the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.”

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies them as vegetables, mushrooms actually provide nutrients common in both plants and animals. Previous studies find mushrooms are rich in antioxidants which may stop harmful inflammation that damages the cells. This oxidative stress can lead to chronic diseases, including cancer.

Researchers presented the findings virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.