Shiitake Mushrooms and Cervical Cancer

The Daily Mail’s Project Oncology appears to have discovered shiitake mushrooms with an item headlined “Could MUSHROOMS prevent cervical cancer?” Inevitably, this possible natural cancer cure has been picked up by Natural News.

In fact it is not the mushrooms themselves but an extract of shiitake mushrooms called active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) which appears to have some potential for treating cancer but it should be noted that the investigation is in the early stage, having just completed in vitro tests and one animal trial.

Methods: Selected cervical cancer cells, SiHa (HPV 16/18 positive), and C-33A (HPV negative) were treated in vitro with a single dose AHCC 0.42 mg/mL and incubated for 72 hours. In the second study AHCC dose was repeated once every 24 hours for total of seven days. This was followed by a three arm in vivo study in two xenograft cervical cancer mouse models, SiHa (HPV 16/18 positive), and C-33A (HPV negative), in which each cell line had ten mice for the treatment arm, vehicle control arm and no treatment arm. Mice in the treatment arm received 50 mg/kg AHCC in 0.25 mL of sterile water every day for seven days before the injection of the tumor cells and until the completion of the study. Tumors were measured three times per week. After 90 days of treatment, there was a 30 day observation period to evaluate the potential for recurrence of the HPV infection and the impact on tumor growth. At the end of the study, tumors were extracted and RT-PCR was completed on DNA samples from extracted protein to evaluate the HPV expression.

Results: In vitro treatment with a single dose of AHCC for 72 hour incubation suppressed HPV expression in the first 24 hours but then HPV expression recovered by 48 hours. However, with continuous in vitro exposure, sustained HPV suppression was observed. In the in vivo animal studies, expression of HPV was eradicated with once daily AHCC dosing for 90 days and no detection of HPV expression was sustained after 30 days off treatment. In addition, AHCC daily treatment was associated with a 15.9% decrease in SiHa (HPV 16/18 positive) tumor growth compared to the untreated control (P< 0.05). AHCC did impact the growth rate of the C-33A (HPV negative) tumors.

Conclusion: In conclusion, these data suggest daily dosing of AHCC will eradicate HPV 16/18 infections and may have a role in the prevention of HPV-related cervical cancer. Furthermore, there is a potential for the addition of AHCC to primary treatment regimens for cervical cancer, which may potentially improve response rates and prevent recurrence. A confirmatory pilot study in HPV positive women is underway.

Some observations on this:

First, the mice were dosed with 50 mg/kg AHCC. Scaling that up to a 60 kg human cancer patient would require 3 grammes of the extract per day, which gets interesting if you are trying to use mushrooms rather than the extract, which both the Mail and Natural News imply is possible. I have been trying to find out how much AHCC is found in shiitake mushrooms but have had no joy. But consider this – if they contain 3% AHCC by weight then you would need to consume 100 grammes of mushrooms per day which is doable. If the content were down to 0.3% then you would need to consume a kilogramme of them (four typical supermarket packs) per day. I think you’d get sick of them rather quickly.

Second, these experiments have demonstrated a potential for eradicating cervical cancer but the paper’s authors are much more guarded when they mention AHCC’s potential role as a cancer preventative.

Third, the authors see it as an addition to treatment regimes not a replacement.

Fourth, we have no results for treatment in humans as yet. A pilot study is underway but for AHCC to be approved as a cancer treatment, a whole series of trials need to follow. If positive, these will result in Big Pharma producing AHCC based medicines, at whichpoint Natural News will condemn them as an unnatural product of the cancer industry.

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