Japanese mushroom extract helpful in treating Cervical Cancer, study says

Certain types of mushrooms are potently delicious and, at the same time, have medicinal properties that make it among the healthiest foods on earth. Among the most highly regarded mushrooms are Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms, and are popular in Oriental medicine tradition. Just recently, the Western world has validated the effectiveness of Shiitake, also known as Japanese mushroom, in eradicating human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the leading cause of cervical cancer.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that an extract from the Japanese mushroom proved to be effective in treating diseases caused by HPV.  

Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. Mushrooms are a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds.

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In a study, the research team observed 10 women who had been tested positive for HPV infection. Each woman were asked to take oral formulation of Japanese mushroom extract once a day for six months.

After 3 months of taking the mushroom extract, five of the women tested negative for HPV infection. Of those five, three were found to have completely eliminated HPV from their bodies after stopping AHCC, with the remaining two responders continuing on the study to reach six months. 

The team discovered that a certain compound known as AHCC (active hexose correlated compound) that is found in the shiitake mushroom appears to be potent HPV eliminators.

Medical News Today described AHCC as a "readily available as a nutritional supplement and is known for its immune-boosting properties; it may also improve the growth and function of cells that ward off infections and prevent tumor growth."

The results of the study were seen as promising, especially by the study's principal investigator Judith Smith. She said in a statement, "The results are very encouraging. We were able to determine that at least three months of treatment is necessary but some need to extend that to six months. Since AHCC is a nutritional supplement with no side effects and other immune modulating benefits, we will be planning on using six months of treatment in our phase II clinical study to have consistent study treatment plan. This confirms our earlier preclinical research."

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are the most commonly transmitted sexual infections in the US. The viruses which are of two types -- HPV 16 and HPV 18 -- account for around 70% of all cases.

HPV is also linked to 95 per cent of anal cancers, 65 per cent of vaginal cancers, 60 per cent of oropharyngeal cancers, 50 per cent of vulvar cancers, and 35 per cent of penile cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost all men and women contract HPV at some point in their lives, but many are unaware of it.

This research is proceeding to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II clinical trial which has just begun at University of Texas Health Science Center, researchers said.

The findings were presented at the 11th International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology in Houston.

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