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  • Writer's pictureInfinitum Health Team

Anticancer Activities of Mushrooms: A Neglected Source forDrug Discovery

Medicinal Mushrooms

This month we celebrate an excellent article by Panda, et. al. showcasing a remarkable summary of studies performed using mushrooms. They have done an excellent job summarizing in vitro, in vivo, and clinical trials performed using the most popular mushroom species.

Let's dive in!

Approximately 270 species of mushrooms have been reported as potentially useful for

human health. However, few mushrooms have been studied for bioactive compounds that can be helpful in treating various diseases. Like other natural regimens, the mushroom treatment appears safe, as could be expected from their long culinary and medicinal use. This review aims to provide a critical discussion on clinical trial evidence for mushrooms to treat patients with diverse types of cancer. In addition, the review also highlights the identified bioactive compounds and corresponding mechanisms of action among the explored mushrooms. Furthermore, it also discusses mushrooms

with anticancer properties, demonstrated either in vitro and/or in vivo models, which have never been tested in clinical studies. Several mushrooms have been tested in phase I or II clinical trials, mostly for treating breast cancer (18.6%), followed by colorectal (14%) and prostate cancer (11.6%).

The majority of clinical studies were carried out with just 3 species: Lentinula edodes (22.2%), Coriolus versicolor, and Ganoderma lucidum (both 13.9%); followed by two other species: Agaricus bisporus and Grifola frondosa (both 11.1%). Most in vitro cell studies use breast cancer cell lines (43.9%), followed by lung (14%) and colorectal cancer cell lines (13.1%), while most in vivo animal studies are performed in mice tumor models (58.7%).

Some interesting highlights about all of the cancers were shown, but a very unique patter for breast cancers was apparent.

The spores of Ganoderma lucidum are a popular nutraceutical, and have been used to reduce breast cancer-related fatigue and improved QOL [19, in Reference pdf]. A 4-week treatment of 48 breast cancer patients under endocrine therapy (RCT), with powdered spores of G. lucidum considerably (p < 0.01) improved QOL compared with the placebo. Several parameters, namely fatigue (week 4, verum = 46.78   5.07; placebo = 40.92   5.62), sleep disturbance (week 4, verum = 42.3   26.2; placebo = 53.9   24.8), and LOA (week 4, verum = 24.3   18.4; placebo = 30.3   16.5) were significantly improved (p < 0.01, p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively). In addition, appetite (week 4, verum = 4.1   2.9; placebo = 6.1   3.2) anddepression (week 4, verum = 3.1   2.8; placebo = 4.6   2.9) were significantly improved (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively) compared with the control group. Mild discomforts such as dizziness (16%) and dry mouth (12%) were recorded in the verum group [in Reference pdf, 19] (Supplementary Materials, Table S1).

Deng et al. [20, in reference pdf] examined the major functional changes in response to oral intake of G. frondosa polysaccharide extracts (5–7 mg/kg daily) in 34 postmenopausal breast cancer patients, who became disease-free after primary treatment as a part of phase I/II trial. They observed increases in TNF- , IL-2, and IL-10 production, but about a one-fifth reduction in IFN- production (Supplementary Materials, Table S1).

Although 32 species of mushrooms at least show some promise for the treatment of cancer, only 11 species have been tested clinically thus far. Moreover, most clinical studies have investigated fewer numbers of patients, and have been limited to phase III or IV. With so much of the industry controlled by Western medicine pharmaceutical giants, these studies and mushrooms are slowly but surely making their way into mainstream medicine conversations.

Cheers to your health,

~Infinitum Health Team


Panda, S.K.; Sahoo, G.; Swain, S.S.; Luyten, W. "Anticancer Activities of Mushrooms: A Neglected Source for Drug Discovery." Pharmaceuticals 2022, 15, 176.

Anticancer Activities of Mushrooms- A Neglected Source for Drug Discovery
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