Ushering Into Movember
Did you know that one in nine Canadian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime? Each year, more than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer worldwide, with more than 205,000 men living with this common disease in Canada. This month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to usher in Movember and discuss how reishi mushrooms can benefit prostate health.
About Prostate Cancer
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that plays a significant role in the reproductive system and urinary system in men. It lies just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As with most cancers, prostate cancer occurs when cells cease to act normally in the body.
As men age, they are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The risk of prostate cancer increases after age 50, and it is most common among men over 60. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is sometimes employed to screen for prostate cancer. Because PSA is a protein is produced by both cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissue, a small amount of PSA does enter the bloodstream. However, cancerous prostate cells produce more PSA, so a physician will consider the age of the person, the size of the prostate, whether the person is taking certain medications that can affect PSA levels, and how quickly those PSA numbers change from test to test (if they do more than one test).
Despite this, there is some good news to be found. Caught early, prostate cancer is largely treatable. Additionally, some types of prostate cancer are extremely slow growing, so not all prostate cancers are treated. Regardless, most of us would rather try to prevent prostate cancer and safely treat even low risk cancers. This is where reishi mushrooms can help.
Reishi Mushrooms and Prostate Health
Studies (1, 2, 3, 4) have shown that compounds, including the polysaccharide beta-glucans, found in reishi mushrooms prevent cancer cell growth. The Journal of Oncology published an article that discusses three cases where tumours shrank in cancer patients who started taking reishi mushrooms.
Researchers in Israel found that reishi mushrooms contain molecules that block male hormones (androgens) from acting on cancerous cells. Unless treated, these hormones can cause cells to multiply uncontrollably into cancer tissue, particularly at the early stages of the disease.
Prostate cancer drugs, such as Flutamide, also interfere with androgen reception. According to the Israeli study, reishi extracts, on the other hand, achieve the same results at a fraction of the cost and without any significant side effects. What’s more, the study showed that reishi was even more efficient than Flutamide.
Keep in mind that current studies on reishi mushrooms and prostate cancer are still in their early stages. So, it is important follow specialist recommendations and to wait until further studies have been conducted before hailing the reishi mushroom as a cure. But they can certainly be considered for preventative use and as a supportive addition to conventional treatments. Especially as reishi mushrooms can also help alleviate chemotherapy-related and radiation-related side effects.
The Other Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms aren’t just good for your prostate – they can benefit your entire body. There are several active healing ingredients found in these medicinal mushrooms that can boost your overall health.
Triterpenes, for instance, are acidic molecules that have the ability to turn off allergic reactions in your body. Polysaccharides can prevent cancer cell growth. Phytosterols can inhibit cholesterol absorption from your intestines, thereby reducing levels of LDL cholesterol.
Numerous studies around the world have shown that reishi mushrooms can be used as treatment or prevention for an array of diseases and illnesses, including diabetes, liver disease, inflammation, flu, autoimmune disorders, cancer, stomach ulcers, sleep disorders, fatigue, heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
This Movember, whether you have struggled with prostate cancer or not, grow a mustache or not, and have a prostate or not, consider that reishi’s powerful anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties can help to keep disease at bay.