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Mushrooms May Fight HPV and Cervical Cancer

mushrooms, HPV and cervical cancer

The fight against HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer may have a friend in a much-studied mushroom extract called active hexose correlated compound (AHCC). These findings were presented at the Society of Gynecological Oncology 45th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in Tampa, Florida.

The players in this study include AHCC, a proprietary extract made from the cultured mycelia (the thread-like part of the mushroom) of Basidiomycete mushrooms, which include shiitake. AHCC has demonstrated antioxidant properties as well as an ability to enhance immune system function.

Read about HPV and cervical cancer

Scores of studies have been conducted using AHCC compound in the fight against cancer, bacterial and viral infections, and liver disease.

HPV is the term for a group of more than 150 related viruses, of which several dozen can be spread through sexual activity. In fact, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus among Americans.

Read about HPV and throat cancer

HPV is associated with numerous types of cancer, including anal, oropharyngeal, vaginal, vulvar, and penile. However, nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infections, as DNA of the virus has been identified in 99.7 percent of cervical cancer biopsies.

AHCC and HPV study
In the study, Dr. Judith A. Smith, Pharm.D, at the University of Texas Health Science Center Medical School at Houston, led a team that used AHCC to treat cervical cancer cells as well as HPV-positive and HPV-negative mouse models. The researchers discovered that 90 days of daily treatment with the mushroom extract eliminated HPV expression.

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According to Dr. Smith, the findings indicate that “by itself AHCC has the potential to treat the HPV infection.” AHCC has been used in Japan for decades to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer, and to boost immune system function.

Read about screening for cervical cancer

How AHCC works
Basically, AHCC is a type of immunotherapy. That means it helps the body heal itself.

AHCC has an ability to be helpful in supporting the body’s two basic types of immunity: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is the first-on-the-scene defense against an intrusion to the immune system while adaptive immunity provides a specific response to a specific attacker.

This mushroom extract provides innate immunity help by increasing the production or activity of certain agents (e.g., cytokines, natural killer cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells) that are involved in the first line of defense. However, the mushroom extract also significantly increases the number of T cells, which are able to identify the invaders and destroy them.

The bottom line
AHCC appears to be a candidate for a vigorous fight against HPV and cervical cancer. More research is needed using this mushroom extract as a natural approach to treating HPV infections and hopefully someday preventing cervical cancer.

Read more about the health benefits of mushrooms

AHCC Research Association
Memorial Sloan Kettering
National Cancer Institute
Society of Gynecological Oncology 45th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer

Image: Flickr/tuppus