Senior Wellbeing

White Button Mushrooms for Prostate Cancer

"White Button Mushrooms
for Prostate Cancer" A regular intake of mushrooms is said to
make us healthier, fitter, and happier, and help us live longer. But what
is the evidence for all of that? Mushrooms are widely cited for their
medicinal qualities, yet very few rigorous human intervention
studies have been done. There is a compound called lentinan,
extracted from shiitake mushrooms. To get about an ounce you have to
distill around 400 pounds of shiitakes. That's like 2,000 cups of mushrooms. But then you can inject the compound into
cancer patients and see what happens. The pooled response from a dozen
small clinical trials found that the objective response rate
was significantly improved when lentinan was added to
chemotherapy regimens for lung cancer. "Objective response rate"
means like tumor shrinkage, but what we really care about
is survival and quality of life.

Does it actually make cancer patients
live any longer or any better? Well, those in the lentinan group
suffered less chemo-related toxicity to their gut and bone marrow, so that alone might be
reason enough to use it. But what about improving survival? I was excited to see that lentinan
evidently could significantly improve survival rates
for a type of leukemia.

And here it is. Adding lentinan increased average
survival and reduced cachexia— which is like cancer-associated muscle
wasting—and improved cage-side health. Wait, what? How…
Damn it. This was improved survival
for brown Norwegian rats. So that so-called clinical benefit
only applies if you're a veterinarian. A compilation of 17 actual human
clinical studies did find improvements in one-year survival in
advanced cancer patients, but no significant difference in the
likelihood of living out to two years. Even the compilations of studies
that purport that lentinan offers a significant advantage in terms of survival
are talking about statistical significance. It's hard to tell these
survival curves apart.

Lentinan improved survival
by an average of 25 days. Now, 25 days is 25 days, but we should
evaluate claims made by companies about the miraculous properties of
medicinal mushrooms very critically. Lentinan has to be
injected intravenously. What about mushroom extract
supplements you can just take yourself? Shiitake mushroom extract is available
through the Internet for the treatment of prostate cancer for
approximately $300 a month, so it's got to be good, right? Men who regularly eat mushrooms
do seem to be at lower risk for getting prostate cancer, and not apparently just because
they eat less meat or more fruits and vegetables in general. So why not
give a shiitake mushroom extract a try? Because it doesn't work—ineffective in
the treatment of clinical prostate cancer. The results demonstrate that
complementary and alternative medicine claims can actually be
put to the test.

What a concept! Maybe it should be mandatory before
patients spend large sums of money on unproven treatments, or in
this case, a disproven treatment. What about God's mushroom, also
known as the Mushroom of Life or reishi mushrooms?
Conclusions: no significant anticancer effects were found,
not even a single partial response. Maybe we're overthinking it? Plain white button mushroom
extracts can kill off prostate cancer cells,
at least in a petri dish, but so could the fancy God's mushroom,
but that didn't end up working in people. You don't know if plain white
button mushrooms work or not until you put it to the test. What I like about this study is that
the researchers didn't use a proprietary extract. They just
used regular whole mushrooms, dried and powdered—
the equivalent of a half cup to a cup and a half of fresh white
button mushrooms a day— in other words, a totally doable amount.
They gave them to men with biochemically recurrent
prostate cancer. What that means is the men had already
gotten a prostatectomy or radiation in an attempt to cut or burn out all the
cancer, but now it's back and growing, as evidenced by a rise in PSA levels, an
indicator of prostate cancer progression.

Of the 26 patients who got
the button mushroom powder, four appeared to respond,
meaning they got a drop in PSA levels by more than
50% after starting the 'shrooms. Here's where the four responders
started out in the months leading up to starting the mushrooms.
Patient 2 was my favorite. He had an exponential increase
in PSA levels for a year. Then he started some
plain white mushrooms, and boom, his PSA level drop
down to zero and stays down. Similar type responses
with patient 1. Patient 4 had a partial response,
before his cancer took off again, and Patient 3 appeared to have
a delayed partial response. Now in the majority of cases,
the PSA levels continued to rise, not dipping at all. But even if there is only a 1 in 18
chance you'll be like these two with a prolonged complete
response that continues to date, we're not talking about weighing the
risks of some toxic chemotherapy for the small chance of benefit; just
eating some inexpensive, easy, tasty, plain white mushrooms every day.

Yes, the study didn't
have a control group, so it may have just
been coincidence, but post-prostatectomy patients
with rising PSAs are almost always indicators of cancer progression.
And, hey, what's the downside? I mean these two patients, their
PSA levels became undetectable, suggesting that the cancer
disappeared altogether. They'd already gone through surgery,
gotten their primary tumor removed along with their entire prostate, already went through radiation to try
to clean up any cancer that remained, and yet the cancer appeared
to be surging back until, that is, they started
a little plain mushroom powder.

As found on YouTube

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