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Mushroom extract and the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer

Posted Jun 24 2010 12:00am

The potential of “natural products” as agents to prevent and/or treat prostate cancer (and other forms of cancer) is a topic of constant interest to many patients even though the available data has demonstrated at best a limited effectiveness of almost all such products tested.

According to a new report from a Japanese research team , an extract of mushroom mycelium was tested in a single-arm, Phase II clinical trial that enrolled 74 patients previously diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, and who were being managed using an active monitoring program (expectant management). The mushroom mycelium extract was given at a dose of 4.5 g/day for 6 months.The primary endpoint of the study was the effect on the patients’ PSA levels.

The results of the study showed the following:

  • Patient compliance with ingestion of the mushroom extract was near to 100 percent over the course of the study.
  • The PSA level was decreased by > 50 percent in only 1/74 patients (1.4 percent) over time.
  • Grade 2 diarrhea and grade 1 itching were observed in 1/74 patients (1.4 percent).
  • In those patients with strong anxiety about progression of their disease prior to supplement ingestion, these feelings of anxiety were significantly alleviated.

The authors conclude that the mushroom mycelium extract was not effective in lowering the PSA levels of patients with early-stage prostate cancer who were being managed expectantly. However, it is worth noting that this type of therapy had a significant impact on the anxiety of those patients most worried about the progression of their disease. It would suggest that the idea that they were “doing something” (as opposed to just monitoring progression of their cancer) was a critical factor in the relief of anxiety.

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