Prostate Cancer Is The Most Common Cancer In Men Across All Population Groups In South Africa


According to research published in the South African Journal of Surgery in 2015,prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men of all population groups1, A later study in 2018, conducted by the University of Pretoria’s School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH), revealed that black men in South Africa have a higher risk of prostate cancer2 than their white counterparts mostly because of elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood. 

As with most cancers, the importance of early detection cannot be overemphasized as it could greatly improve the success of treatment3. Guidelines include annual screening from the age of 50 years.  However, if there is family history of prostate cancer, annual screening is advisable from the age of 45 years.

Men who need to find a way to keep their PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels down or, more to the point, help prevent cancer’s recurrence need to take a more serious look at white button mushrooms, as they may just be IT

Researchers treated 36 prostate cancer patients with white button mushroom powder, assessing their PSA levels’ responsiveness to different doses of the powder and whether the men experienced any ill effects. After 3 months of daily use of the powder, 36% of patients experienced some reduction in PSA, with two patients experiencing a remarkable complete response, meaning their PSA levels dropped to undetectable levels. Of significance is that the complete response continued for 49 and 30 months. 

The results suggest that chemicals in mushrooms positively affect the body’s immune system, said study author Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of 

City of Hope2. In this 2015 study, published May 18 in Cancer, the researchers concluded that therapy using white button mushrooms in this manner appears both impact PSA levels and modulate the biology of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer by decreasing immunosuppressive factors.”

“In other words”, says Ross Richardson, the chairperson of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA), “white button mushrooms are not mild-mannered at all but rather a ‘Superfood’. And, although it is unlikely that any one nutrient or compound in food provides all the protection against cancer, it is far more likely that the synergy of the many compounds in mushrooms, and food in general combine effectively to offer protection to the body. That is why SAMFA advocates a healthy diet meaning one that includes mushrooms, which are a very useful source of B vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds.”

The addendum provide more information on the potential role mushrooms can play in the prevention of prostate cancer



Selenium is a mineral that works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage that might lead to heart disease, some cancers and other diseases of aging. It also has been found to be important for the immune system and fertility in men. (Source: National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus.

Many foods of animal origin and grains are good sources of selenium, but mushrooms are among the richest sources of selenium in the produce aisle and provide 8-22 mcg per serving. (Source: The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Selenium is 55 mcg (micrograms) for adults. The US Dept of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Nutrient Database reports that grilled Portabella mushrooms (big brown mushrooms) have 26.5 mcg of Selenium per serving, nearly half of the daily RDA for an adult. Portabellini mushrooms (small brown mushrooms) and white button mushrooms are also good sources of the nutrient. (This is also excellent news for vegetarians, whose sources of selenium are limited).

Dietary selenium is believed to prevent cancer in two ways: First, this micro-mineral is an important constituent of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that helps protect your body’s cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Second, selenium may help prevent tumor growth by strengthening the immune system and by inhibiting the development of blood vessels to tumors.

Furthermore, edible mushrooms contain beta-glucans which, according to some human studies, can provide protection against some types of cancer – including breast, skin, stomach and lung cancer. Beta-glucans in mushrooms have been shown to be capable of passing immune cells to the cancerous area and destroying cancer cells. The anti-cancer effects of beta-glucans have also been documented in a number of animal studies. (Source:

Researchers in the Netherlands found that men who ate the most selenium in their diet had a 31% lower risk of developing prostate cancer. (Source: van den Brandt PA, Zeegers MPA, Bode P and Goldbohm RA.  Toenail selenium levels and the subsequent risk of prostate cancer: A Prospective Cohort Study.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.  2003;12:866-871)

Eating foods rich in selenium may also lower the likelihood of developing prostate cancer and slow prostate cancer tumor progression according to results from the Physicians’ Health Study. (Source: Li H, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL et al.  A Prospective Study of Plasma Selenium Levels and Prostate Cancer Risk.  J Natl Cancer Inst  2004;96(9):696-703).

MUSHROOMS CONTAIN CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) 

In prostate cancer, it may be the presence of the special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in mushrooms that is especially important. Prostate cancer cells are known to produce aromatase enzymes. It may be that the CLA in mushrooms are  able to block the aromatase enzymes.  Blocking of a second type of enzyme (called 5-alpha reductase) by mushroom extracts has also been a focus of prostate cancer studies. This enzyme converts testosterone that plays a role in the development of prostate cancer.  As in the case of aromatase, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) seems to inhibit this enzyme thus preventing or controlling prostate cancer. Source:


What makes mushrooms even more remarkable, besides the fact that they contain selenium which acts as an antioxidant as it functions as part of an enzyme system that protects against oxidative stress, is that they contain another powerful antioxidant called l-ergothioneine. A major benefit of this antioxidant is that it is heat-stable meaning it is present in both raw and cooked mushrooms. Ergothioneine is found in very few vegetables or fruit. The body does not make ergothioneine so it can only be obtained from the diet.  (Source: Ey J, Schömig E, Taubert D. Dietary sources and antioxidant effects of ergothioneine. J Agricultural & Food Chemistry 2007; 55: 6466-6474).  

Antioxidant activity is enhanced by the presence of selenium and as mushrooms contain a significant amount of selenium in every serving, they could turn out to be important ingredients in a cancer-fighting diet.

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