An increasing body of scientific literature suggests that dietary components may exert cancer preventive effects. Tea, soy, cruciferous vegetables and other foods have been investigated for their cancer preventive potential. Some non-edible mushrooms like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) have a history use, both alone and in conjunction with standard therapies, for the treatment of various diseases including cancer in some cultures. They have shown efficacy in a number of scientific studies. By comparison, the potential cancer preventive effects of edible mushrooms have been less well-studied. With similar content of putative effective anticancer compounds such as polysaccharides, proteoglycans, steroids, etc., one might predict that edible mushrooms would also demonstrate anticancer and cancer preventive activity. In this review, available data for five commonly-consumed edible mushrooms: button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), A. blazei, oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes), and maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms is discussed. The results of animal model and human intervention studies, as well as supporting in vitro mechanistic studies are critically evaluated. Weaknesses in the current data and topics for future work are highlighted.
Keywords: Agaricus spp., Apoptosis, Button mushrooms, Cancer prevention, Grifola frondosa, Lentinus edodes, Maitake, Mushrooms, Oyster, Polyphenols, Pleurotus ostreatus, Proteoglycans, Shiitake