Bladder Cancer and Mushrooms

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007
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Stopping Bladder Cancer at the Cellular Level – Naturally: Mushroom extracts induce sharp growth reduction in superficial tumor cells by Jeni Baker

A preliminary study* of the impact of organic agents on bladder cancer cells has yielded some interesting (and promising) information.

Research conducted by Sensuke Konno, PhD, of the New York Medical College, indicates that active ingredients found in extracts from two types of mushrooms reduced the growth of human bladder cancer cells by more than 90 percent. The results were just as impressive when the agents were used in conjunction with vitamin C.

Two natural agents show great potential

Konno examined the effects of eight commercially available natural agents on bladder cancer T24 cells derived from a person with transitional cell carcinoma, which comprises the vast majority of bladder cancer cases. He studied the following compounds:

• Active ingredient in maitake mushroom (GD-fraction)
• Arabinoxylan from rice bran (ARBX)
• Extract of Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom (ABE)
• Extract of meshimakobu mushroom (PL-fraction)
• Extract of yeast cell wall (YBG)
• Mixed powder of Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom and shark cartilage (ASC)
• Mixed powder of three mushrooms and three herbs (MSK)
• Mycelial extract of several mushrooms (AHC)

While six of the agents showed no effect, two – the GD- and PL-fractions – slowed cell growth by more than 90 percent over 72 hours.

Equally compelling is the effect both agents had when much lower concentrations of either one was introduced to the cancer cells in conjunction with a low level of vitamin C. Both the “GD-fraction and vitamin C” and “PL-fraction and vitamin C” cocktails killed more than 90 percent of the cancer cells.

Based on these findings, Konno says it is plausible that these substances eventually could be used – alone or in tandem with conventional therapies – for the treatment of superficial bladder cancer, the first stage of the disease.

Human implications

Because the natural agents were physically introduced to the cancer cells in this study – not consumed by people – an equivalent human trial would require the agents to be administered through a catheter inserted in the urethra.

Whether the study has any implications for the oral use of these compounds remains to be seen.

“It’s very possible, but many more studies need to be done on these agents before we can confirm any sort of relationship,” Konno says. “Adding either of these two products to one’s diet may have some effect – and because there are no known side effects, it would probably be fine for most people.”

People with bladder cancer or who are at high risk for developing the disease should always speak with their physicians if they’re considering using any natural agents, he says. (A related note: Because smoking contributes to nearly 50 percent of all bladder cancer cases, smokers are at particularly high risk.)

Patients should understand, Konno adds, that providers’ perspectives on this topic depend upon their knowledge of and support for complementary and alternative therapies.

“People of course have a right to raise this issue with their doctors, but it’s up to the doctors to know about alternative therapies and to be willing to listen to their patients,” he says. “There are many cancers that can’t be satisfactorily treated with conventional therapies, so we must all be open to exploring non-conventional ways to treat them.”

The upshot, Konno says, is that “there are a number of natural substances – most with few or no known side effects – that could potentially have significant clinical applications for treating all kinds of cancer.”

*Konno S., Effect of Various Natural Products on Growth of Bladder Cancer Cells: Two Promising Mushroom Extracts. Alternative Medicine Review, 2007 Mar;12(1):63-8.