Mushrooms Might Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk, Says Study
Treatment for prostate cancer is continually improving but, currently, there is neither a cure nor a way to prevent it. However, researchers have recently discovered that eating mushrooms may help reduce the risk of such cancers. The beneficial effect is relatively minor, but the findings are likely to inspire further investigation. 
 
The study was led by researchers at the University School of Public Health (Japan) and has been published in the International Journal of Cancer. For the study, a total of 36,499 men between the ages of 40 and 79 were surveyed and asked to complete a questionnaire about lifestyle choices, such as diet (including mushroom consumption), physical activity, smoking and drinking habits. Participants were also asked to provide information on their education, family and medical history. 
 
Each participant was then categorised into one of five groups, based on their level of mushroom consumption: almost never (6.9%), 1-2 times a month (36.8%), 1-2 times a week (36%), 3-4 times a week (15.7%) and almost every day (4.6%). During the follow-up period, researchers discovered 1,204 cases of prostate cancer among the participants, a total of 3.3%.
 
Analysis of the data, after controlling for variables, revealed a significant beneficial effect of mushroom consumption. Compared with those who ate mushrooms less than once a week, those who ate mushrooms 1-2 times each week had an 8% lower relative risk of prostate cancer. Those who ate mushrooms 3-4 times each week had a 17% lower relative risk. Eating mushrooms also appeared to be particularly beneficial among men aged 50 and older, among those who consumed a large amount of meat and dairy products and little fruit and vegetables. 
 
“Test-tube studies and studies conducted on living organisms have shown that mushrooms have the potential to prevent prostate cancer. However, the relationship between mushroom consumption and incidence of prostate cancer in humans has never been investigated before. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first cohort study indicating the prostate cancer-preventive potential of mushrooms at a population level,” said lead researcher Dr Zhang Shu.
 
Mushrooms are a relatively inexpensive and a widely consumed food throughout the world. In recent years, studies have begun to identify their potential disease fighting capabilities. According to the study, mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are believed to mitigate oxidative stress. This type of stress comes through a cellular imbalance caused by poor diet and lifestyle choices. Mushrooms have also been known to mitigate exposure to environmental toxins which lead to chronic inflammation and, eventually, to chronic diseases such as cancer. 
 
However, there are certain limitations to the study. Firstly, using self-reported dietary information is not ideal because it is open to error and misreporting. But for a study of this size, there is no viable alternative. As the study is purely observational, the authors cannot definitively conclude that mushrooms caused the reduction in cancer risk. Although this research was not designed to uncover how mushrooms might protect against cancer, the authors believe that this effect might be due to their antioxidants. 
 
“The results of our study suggest mushrooms may have a positive health effect on humans,” said Dr Zhang. “Based on these findings, further studies that provide more information on dietary intake of mushrooms in other populations and settings are required to confirm this relationship.” 
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    Controversial Study Says No Harm Consuming Red Meat
    After several years of warnings about the potential damage, including cancer and heart disease, caused by consumption of red meat and processed meat, a panel of experts from seven countries has recently said that people should not necessarily cut down on their consumption of red meat products like ham, sausage and bacon. 
     
    These controversial recommendations, which have been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, were made by nutriRECS, a consortium of experts that describes its mission as producing trustworthy nutritional guidelines. 
     
    Prof Gordon Guyatt, chair of the guideline committee from McMaster University (Canada) said that the research group with a panel of 14 members from seven countries used a rigorous systematic review methodology and methods which rate the certainty of evidence for each outcome, to move from evidence to dietary recommendations to develop their guidelines. “There is a worldwide interest in nutrition and the issue of red meat in particular. People need to be able to make decisions about their own diet based on the best information available,” he added. 
     
    Dr Bradley Johnston, part-time associate professor at McMaster University and associate professor at Dalhousie University, is one of the corresponding authors of the new guideline. He explained that the research team realises its work is contrary to many current nutritional guidelines. “This is not just another study on red and processed meat, but a series of high quality systematic reviews resulting in recommendations we think are far more transparent, robust and reliable,” he added. 
     
    To arrive at their conclusion, researchers performed a series of systematic reviews focused on randomised controlled trials and observational studies looking at the impact of red meat and processed meat consumption on cardio-metabolic and cancer outcomes. In a review of 12 trials with 54,000 people, the researchers did not find statistically significant or important association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer. In three systematic reviews of cohort studies following millions of people, the researchers found a very small reduction in risk among those who had three or fewer servings of red or processed meat a week; but the association was uncertain. 
     
    Dr Johnston said, “We focused exclusively on health outcomes and did not consider animal welfare or environmental concerns when making our recommendations. We are however sympathetic to animal welfare and environmental concerns with a number of the guideline panel members having eliminated or reduced their personal red and processed meat intake for these reasons.” 
     
    The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has historically advised people to avoid processed meat altogether or eat very little of it, while limiting red meat to about three portions a week. After the study was published, the WCRF gathered a team of organisations—including from the World Health Organisation—to hit back at the latest findings, saying that there is good evidence of link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer. 
     
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    Vitamin-D and Omega-3 Supplements Lower Cancer and Heart Attack Risk, Finds Study
    Adding to the debate of whether nutrition supplements are beneficial, a new study has found that taking vitamin-D supplements and omega-3 could prevent cancer and heart attacks. 
     
    North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conducted the largest clinical trial—Vitamin-D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL)—to test whether vitamin-D or fish oil can effectively prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease. The study involved nearly 26,000 men and women from the US and took five years to complete. 
     
    Fish oils are well known for their omega-3 fatty acid and rich content of vitamin-A and D which have numerous health benefits. On the other hand, vitamin-D is best absorbed by the body when taken along with oil or fats. Prior studies have yielded mixed results of fish oil and vitamin-D in providing protection against cardiovascular diseases.
     
    The results from this new study have shown promising results for certain outcomes. For instance, while omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) showed only a small, but non-significant, reduction in the primary cardiovascular endpoint of major cardiovascular events, they were associated with significant reductions in heart attacks. The greatest treatment benefit was seen in people with dietary fish intake below the cohort median of 1.5 servings per week but not in those whose intake was above that level. Also, African-Americans appeared to experience the greatest risk reductions.
     
    Additionally, researchers also observed that although vitamin-D supplementation did not reduce major cardiovascular events or total cancer incidence, it was associated with a statistically significant reduction in total cancer mortality among those participating in the trial for at least two years. The effect of vitamin-D in reducing cancer death is also confirmed by updated meta-analyses of vitamin-D trials to date.
     
    “The pattern of findings suggests a complex balance of benefits and risks for each intervention and points to the need for additional research to determine which individuals may be most likely to derive a net benefit from these supplements,” said Dr JoAnn Manson, the lead author of the study from Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. 
     
    “With heart disease and cancer representing the most significant health threats to women, it is imperative that we continue to study the viability of options that prevent these diseases and help women survive them,” says Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director of NAMS. 
     
    The latest VITAL findings will be presented during the annual meeting of NAMS in Chicago later this week. 
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    2 months ago

    it seems like compulsory education should be voluntary!

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