Breast Cancer

Polysaccharide extracts from Lentinus edodes, Grifola frondosa and Trametes versicolor have all been reported to be beneficial for breast cancer1.

Long term immunotherapy with PSK has been shown to significantly improve the survival rate of patients with breast cancer42, while a separate study in breast cancer patients with vascular invasion linked the effect of PSK supplementation to B40 antigen status (a known indicator of breast cancer survival) with 100% of B40-positive patients treated with PSK as well as chemotherapy surviving beyond 10 years, while for B40-negative patients the 10-year survival rate was approximately 50%4.

Symptomatic improvement or regression was also reported by Nanba for 11 out of 15 breast cancer patients treated with a combination of Maitake D-fraction and Maitake (G. frondosa) fruiting body14. Mizuno reported recovery in a breast cancer patient with lung metastases using Agaricus brasiliensis polysaccharide extract5, while Phellinus linteus has traditionally been used to treat breast cancer in Korea and polysaccharide extracts show strong in-vitro activity6.

Breast Cancer – Oestrogen independent

The transcription factor NF-kB has been identified as a key component in the ability of breast cancer cells to multiply independently of oestrogen while resisting chemotherapy and avoiding apoptosis1.

Ganoderma lucidum has shown the most significant inhibitory effect on NF-kB in highly invasive breast cancer cells with the triterpenes particularly active. Triterpenes from G. lucidum have also been shown to inhibit aromatase activity, as well as the transcription factor AP1 (characteristic of highly metastatic breast cancer cells), while the clinical role of a triterpene-enriched G. lucidum extract in inhibiting NF-kB in a case of breast cancer is also reported in one paper7. In addition triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum show Epstein-Barr virus inhibitory activity1.

Other mushrooms which have demonstrated NF-kB inhibition in vitro include Phellinus linteus and Lentinus edodes.

Breast Cancer – Preventative There is growing evidence to suggest a protective effect against breast cancer from regular dietary intake of mushrooms, especially in post-menopausal women, and some evidence that the protective effect is enhanced in combination with green tea consumption. An epidemiological study of 2,000 Chinese women, half with breast cancer and half without, found a reduction in risk of breast cancer in those women who regularly consumed mushrooms (10g/day fresh or 4g/day dried) and drank green tea (1.05g/day dried green tea leaves) with an increased reduction in women who did both8. A Korean study comparing 362 women with histologically confirmed breast cancer and an equal number of women without, matched by age and menopausal status, found a strong inverse correlation between mushroom consumption and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women but not in pre-menopausal women9. In vitro studies with extracts of Ganoderma lucidum and green tea also showed synergistic effect in inhibiting adhesion, migration and invasion of oestrogen-independent and highly metastatic human breast cancer cells10.

There is no data on which mushrooms were consumed in the above Chinese and Korean studies but in an in vitro study of aqueous extracts from 38 culinary and medicinal mushrooms, Flammulina velutipes, consumption of which has separately been linked to significant reductions in mortality, showed high levels of activity against both oestrogen +ve and -ve breast cancer cell lines, with almost complete inhibition (99%) of colony formation in oestrogen +ve cells and exceptionally rapid apoptosis of both oestrogen +ve and -ve cells11.

In addition several culinary mushrooms, together with G. lucidum and multiple strains of Fomitopsis officinalis, demonstrate an ability to inhibit the enzyme aromatase, which converts androgen to oestrogen and whose abnormal expression in breast tissue is considered to be a risk factor for breast cancer13. Among the culinary mushrooms tested, which did not include F. velutipes, the common button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus had the highest anti-aromatase activity, followed by Auricularia auricula, Pleurotus ostreatus and Lentinus edodes.

1. Potential Role of Medicinal Mushrooms in Breast Cancer Treatment: Current Knowledge and Future Perspectives. Petrova RD, Wasser SP; Mahajna JA, Denchev CM, Neva E. Intl J Med Mush. 2005;7(1-2):141-153
2. Hormone conditioned cancer chemotherapy for recurrent breast cancer prolongs survival. Sugimachi K, Inokuchi K, Matsuura H, Ueo H, Kumashiro R. Jpn J Surg. 1984 May;14(3):217-21
3. Immunochemotherapies versus chemotherapy as adjuvant treatment after curative resection of operable breast cancer. Iino Y, Yokoe T, Maemura M, Horiguchi J, Takei H, Ohwada S, Morishita Y. Anticancer Res. 1995 Nov-Dec;15(6B):2907-11
4. HLA antigen as predictive index for the outcome of breast cancer patients with adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK. Yokoe T, Iino Y, Takei H, Horiguchi J, Koibuchi Y, Maemura M, Ohwada S, Morishita Y. Anticancer Res. 1997 Jul- Aug;17(4A):2815-8
5. Medicinal properties and clinical effects of culinary-medicinal mushroom Agaricus blazei Murrill (Agaricomycetideae) (Review). Mizuno T. Int J Med Mushr. 2002;4:299–312
6. Phellinus linteus suppresses growth, angiogenesis and invasive behaviour of breast cancer cells through the inhibition of AKT signalling. Sliva D, Jedinak A, Kawasaki J, Harvey K, Slivova V. Br J Cancer. 2008;98(8): 348-56
7. Potential Benefits of Ling Zhi or Reishi Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (W. Curt.: Fr.) P. Karst. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) to Breast Cancer Patients. Chen A.W, Seleen J. Int J Med Mushr. 2007;9(1):29-38
8. Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Zhang M, Huang J, Xie X, Holman C.D. Int J Cancer. 2009;124(6):1404-8
9. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. Hong S.A, Kim K, Nam S.J, Kong G, Kim M.K. Int J Cancer. 2008; 122(4):919–23
10. Combined effect of green tea and Ganoderma lucidum on invasive behavior of breast cancer cells. Thyagarajan A, Zhu J, Sliva D. Int J Oncol. 2007;30(4):963-9
11. in vitro effects on proliferation, apoptosis and colony inhibition in ER-dependent and ER-independent human breast cancer cells by selected mushroom species. Gu Y.H, Leonard J. Oncol Rep. 2006;15(2):417-23
12. Chemopreventive properties of mushrooms against breast cancer and prostate cancer. Chen S, Phung S, Kwok S, Ye J, Hur G, Oh S, Smith D, Yuan Y.C, Karlsberg K, Lui K. Int J Med Mush.2005;3:342-343[
13. Clinical evaluation of schizophyllan combined with irradiation in patients with cervical cancer. A randomized controlled study. Okamura K, Suzuki M, Chihara T, Fujiwara A, Fukuda T, Goto S, Ichinohe K, Jimi S, Kasamatsu T, Kawai N, et al. Cancer. 1986;58(4):865-72
14. Maitake D-fraction: healing and preventive potential for cancer. Nanba H. J Orthomolecular Med. 1997;12:43-49

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