The role of edible mushrooms in health: Evaluation of the evidence originally published in the Journal of Functional Foods in 2012, ranked number 8 in the Top 25 Hottest Articles downloaded from the journal during all of 2013. This review was prepared by the CSIRO team of Roupas, Keogh, Noakes, Margetts and Taylor and was a project of the Mushrooms and Health Global Initiative.
Mushrooms & Health Report 2014:
Mushrooms and Health 2014 is the 4th edition superseding the initial report in 2008 which was updated biennially in 2010, and 2012. The current entire 2014 report is easily accessed by clicking on the section or individual topic of interest hyperlinked in the Table of Contents.
Mushrooms and Health 2014 focuses primarily on the evaluation of published human trials on consumption of edible mushrooms and health outcomes. The Report describes the levels of evidence and areas where future human dietary intervention trials are warranted to substantiate these effects. Click on the section “Effects of Mushrooms and Mushroom Components on Human Health.”
For a list of currently registered human trials, click on “Human Trials in Progress.”
To read the animal and in vitro studies that provide lower levels of evidence that provide insights into the cellular mechanisms that may mediate potential human health, click on the section “Bioactive Compounds and Proposed Mechanisms of Action.”
For Compositional Tables for Raw, Cooked and Dried mushrooms, click on the “Appendix.”
“New Applications in Human Health” that are covered in the full report include: Brain Health / Cognition; Cancer Therapy Adjuvants; Respiratory Tract Infections; and Vaccine Adjuvants.
As with previous reports, information on the Methodology, Authors, and References are also included.
Authors’ Concluding Remarks
According to the authors:
The growing amount of data from human clinical trials suggests that the mushrooms and mushroom extracts tested are safe and generally well-tolerated.
The most promising data appear to be those indicating an inverse relationship between mushroom consumption and breast cancer risk. It has been previously suggested that an inhibition of aromatase activity, and a subsequent reduction in estrogen, may affect estrogen receptor positive tumors which provides a physiologically-relevant mechanism for these effects of mushrooms in breast cancer treatment. New research has also suggested that beta-glucans may be responsible for this action on aromatase activity and possibly via direct effects on estrogen receptors, which are separate from their previously described immunomodulatory effects.
There is a rapidly growing body of evidence that suggests that mushroom intake may have an immune-stimulatory effect on immune-compromised patients. Some of these effects are substantiated to a point where Lentinan, the backbone of beta-(1, 3)-glucan with beta-(1, 6) branches, purified from Shiitake mushrooms, has now been approved as a biological response modifier for the treatment of gastric cancer in Japan.
Epidemiological studies and one direct intervention trial in humans have provided suggestive evidence for possible effects of mushroom intake on some aspects of brain health, however, to date, there is insufficient evidence from human studies to confirm clinically-relevant outcomes on brain health parameters. Although preliminary, new data showing protective effects of mushrooms on beta-amyloid peptide toxicity in the brain and mild cognitive impairment (both precursors to dementia) are noteworthy and warrant further research on the ability of mushroom consumption to potentially delay the onset of dementia / Alzheimer’s disease.
Preventative health effects of mushrooms and their components on respiratory tract infections have now been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials in different population/age groups, significantly strengthening the level of evidence for an effect of mushroom beta-glucan(s) on respiratory tract infections.
The use of mushroom components as vaccine adjuvant(s) in humans also appears promising with supporting in vitro, in vivo animal trials, and human studies demonstrating positive immune-stimulatory effects post-vaccination.
Previous Mushrooms and Health Reports
To access Mushrooms and Health Reports from previous years, click on the year menu: 2008, 2010, 2012.