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Mushrooms add a nice flavor along with nutrients to any dish. Now a phase I clinical study has found that a certain mushroom will reduce PSA levels in men who've had prostate cancer.
If you are a man, there is a good chance you could get diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point. About one in seven men will be diagnosed with cancer during his lifetime.
The American Cancer Society estimates there were 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. during 2015. And about 27,540 men died from prostate cancer in 2015.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. It follows only lung cancer.
Yet the survival rates for prostate cancer are typically good, assuming the cancer remains in the prostate. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body such as the lymphatic system or other organs, the five-year survival rate is only about 28 percent.
The issue for most men who’ve had prostate cancer is to prevent a progression and recurrence of the cancer. And prostate enlargement is linked specifically to prostate cancer, as well as recurrence.
Furthermore, for those men who have or have had prostate cancer, their cancer will often progress or recur as the prostate continues to become atypically enlarged. This is called continuous enlargement. An estimated 50,000 prostate cancer patients continue to have rising prostate enlargement. This is associated with a recurrence of the prostate cancer.
This means that strategies to reduce prostate enlargement can be of critical importance to just about any man at some point in our lives.
Prostate enlargement is medically called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. And prostate enlargement is measured by the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This is a protein-enzyme produced by cells in the prostate gland, also called kallikrein-3.
We have discussed research of natural herbs and foods connected with BPH and PSA in this publication. Many of these have been shown to be preventative: They can help delay prostate rise in men or a slower rise in some men (even healthy men will also have some prostate enlargement as they age).
But a few of these natural products have been shown to help reduce or delay prostate enlargement. And there are even a few that have been shown to reverse enlargement.
Then again, there is prostate enlargement for a man who already has or has had prostate cancer. Can natural medicines provide any hope for men who now have an increased risk of recurrence due to continued prostate enlargement?
What about pharmaceuticals for prostate enlargement?
The main two drug classes that reduce prostate are alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Both of these drug classes have been shown in studies to sometimes reduce or delay increasing PSA levels in some men.
While neither class of drugs will shrink the prostate in all cases, they can also relieve some of the symptoms of prostate enlargement by relaxing the prostate muscles.
The problem many have with these drugs is with some of their side effects. Alpha blocker drugs can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, digestive issues, sinus congestion and headaches. Some have reported low pressure as a result of taking this class of drugs.
Adverse effects of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors include erectile and sexual dysfunction – even impotence. Depression and anxiety have been reported, as well as allergic reactions in some cases. These drugs can also render false PSA results. This means PSA testing has to be repeated for accuracy.
Mushroom reduces prostate enlargement in cancer sufferers
Nature may provide an adverse effect-free alternative. A new phase I clinical trial has shown that a particular type of mushroom can reverse prostate enlargement.
The research comes from the Beckman Research Institute and the Department of Medical Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics at the City of Hope National Medical Center located in Duarte, California. Here researchers have become convinced from laboratory trials that mushroom therapy may provide hope for prostate cancer sufferers with advancing PSA levels.
The researchers tested 36 men – who were patients and prostate cancer sufferers. The test subjects were divided into groups of six. Each group started off with 8 grams per day, and their doses were increased to up to 14 grams per day of a mushroom extract. The therapy was given for three months, and the results were measured using a dose-dependent response. This means their results were compared to their levels of dosage.
The mushroom used was Agaricus bisporus – also referred to as white or button mushrooms. These are the common mushroom found at the supermarket or added to most dishes in restaurants. It is by far the most prolifically grown commercial mushroom.
The researchers found that over a third of the patients – or 36 percent – experienced reductions in their PSA levels during the three-month period. That is, their PSA levels were below the levels they had in the beginning of the study.
Some of the patients experienced what the researchers called a “complete response.” This means their PSA levels went down so far that their PSA levels were “undetectable.” Furthermore, these undetectable PSA levels continued for 30 months in one patient and 49 months in another patient.
Furthermore, those who experienced either a complete response or a partial response also saw increased immune strength. This is specific in interleukin-15 and myeloid-derived suppressor cells – both important in fighting prostate cancer or preventing its recurrence.
The researchers confirmed these effects in their conclusion:
“Therapy with white button mushrooms appears to both impact PSA levels and modulate the biology of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer by decreasing immunosuppressive factors.”
Previous research confirms Agaricus’ anticancer effects for prostate
Getting to a phase I clinical trial doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For decades, researchers have found that Agaricus mushrooms stimulate the immune system. Some have found that Agaricus will boost anticancer cytokines.
Before they moved to a clinical trial, the researchers at the Beckman Research Institute conducted laboratory research using Agaricus. Their research found positive results and found that one of the central components of Agaricus – conjugated linoleic acid – was effective in reducing PSA in the laboratory.
Another laboratory study from China’s National Yang-Ming University found that another Agaricus species - Agaricus blazei Murill – reduced prostate cancer growth in human cancer cells. They found this among both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.
The researchers stated:
“We therefore suggest that A. blazei might have potential therapeutic use in the prevention and treatment of human prostate cancer.”
Lack of adverse effects
In the new clinical study, along with the laboratory studies, no adverse effects were found in the Agaricus mushroom treatments.
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Yu CH, Kan SF, Shu CH, Lu TJ, Sun-Hwang L, Wang PS. Inhibitory mechanisms of Agaricus blazei Murill on the growth of prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Oct;20(10):753-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.07.004.
American Cancer Society. What are the key statistics about prostate cancer? Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.