Cancer & Mushrooms – new research old news

Once again, leading scientists, have “discovered” what has been known throughout the ages. In this case, it has to do with mushrooms. Lets look at how and why some mushrooms might be important to cancer and what research says about them, both currently and historically.

According to the Natural Health Dossier, “Dr. Chang-Yan Chen is a research investigator at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School. He specializes in cancer and hematology.
Champignons_AgaricusIn particular, he examines the bodily signals that cause cells to grow and die….Analysis of the data showed that it was because a protein – caspase-3 – had been activated. Caspase-3 is known to promote “apoptosis,” the mechanism that causes cancer cells to destroy themselves.

Note: cancer cells grow the way they do predominantly because the DNA for “apoptosis” has been turned off. Apoptosis means “automatic cell death”. Cells have a life span, for instance, red blood cells live for approximately 90-120 days. Then they die. Many things can trigger apoptosis in a given cell, for instance, low glutathione levels. (For more on glutathione see:

In cancer cells, the DNA switch for apoptosis is turned off and consequently cells keep reproducing but not dying. Research has shown that there are many food molecules that can turn apoptosis on in cancer cells and beta glucans are just one type. (For other food molecules that impact on cancer see:

Many mushrooms, i.e., Red Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake, and Agaricus Blazei Murill (ABM) have been identified in working with cancers in a number of ways. The molecule of most interest in the mushroom, relating to cancer, is called a beta glucan: β-glucans are a diverse group of molecules that can vary with respect to molecular mass, solubility, viscosity, and three-dimensional configuration. They occur most commonly as cellulose in plants, the bran of cereal grains, the cell wall of baker’s yeast, certain fungi, mushrooms and bacteria

We should be upset by the fact that 25 years of studies have shown the Braizliam mushroom to stimulate the immune system & promote the body’s natural mechanisms to battle infectious disease and cancers. That it is well established that the mushroom stimulates lymphocyte T-cell and Helper T-cell production. That science knows that the beta glucan of these mushrooms stimulates production of interferon and interleukin that indirectly function to destroy and prevent the proliferation of cancer cells. These Brazilian mushrooms turned out to be a very powerful antiviral agent preventing viruses from entering tissues.

Now there are many types of beta glucans; and they have different impacts on different cells; and different foods have different concentrations of beta glucans. This is where your alternative practitioner comes in handy. If the practitioner is a herbalist or some types of nutritionists, they are more likely to understand all the different variables that need to be addressed when working with cancer and food molecules.

For instance there are over a 2000 known speices of Reishi and only 12 have been extensively studied. In addition, there are over 200 compounds in this mushroom that are beneficial to a variety of different health concerns.
Note: Although medicinal molds do not produce mushrooms, these fungi were the original source of penicillin, lovastatin, griseofulvin and allowed for the development of the statin medications.

The studies in Japan showed ABM to be 80% more effective than the world’s number one cancer drug, PSK. It contains much higher levels of beta glucans than the other medicinal mushrooms (Maitake, Shiitake, and Reishi) and stimulates NK (Natural Killer) cell activity.

Mushrooms have been used historically for medicinal purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Egyptian medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.  For a more extensive list on specific mushrooms and their different medicinal applications, see:

Note as well, that our common household white button mushroom does not hold the nutritional value of these other mushrooms.  They are mass grown, in a environment, that does not support the nutrition.

Western science, once again, is starting to catch up with what has been known through out the ages and what Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy Medicine and medicine be thy food.”

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References:  (these references are predominatly for beta glucans & taken from

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