Men who ate mushrooms three times a week cut the likelihood of getting prostate cancer by 17%. Picture: Flickr.com

London - Eating mushrooms three times a week cuts the risk of prostate cancer by nearly a fifth, a study suggests.

Researchers in Japan found the fungi contain compounds that suppress a male hormone that boosts the cancer’s growth. The claim follows a study that followed more than 36 000 men, aged 40 to 79, over 13 years. Eating mushrooms just once or twice a week cut prostate cancer risk by 8%, the team found.

Those who ate mushrooms three times a week cut the likelihood of the disease by 17%. The effect was especially pronounced in men aged 50 or over, and in those with a low fruit and vegetable intake as well as a high meat and dairy intake.

The study’s lead author, Shu Zhang of the Tohoku University School of Medicine, said: "Participants who consumed mushrooms frequently tended to be older, spend more time walking and have a higher intake of meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy products and energy. They were also less likely to be current smokers."

Previous research in the US found white button mushrooms suppress the prostate cancer hormone. However, Zhang, whose study was published in the International Journal of Cancer, said: "Since information on species was not collected, it is difficult to know which specific mushrooms contributed to our findings."

Daily Mail