Mushroom powder linked to lower PSA levels in prostate cancer patients
May 22, 2015
| by Tami Dennis
White button mushrooms seem fairly innocuous as fungi go. Unlike portabellas, they don't center stage at the dinner table, and unlike truffles, they're not the subject of gourmand fervor. But appearances can be deceiving when it comes to these mild-mannered Clark Kents of the food world.
Powder made from white button mushrooms appears able to lower PSA levels in men previously treated for prostate cancer.
In a study led by City of Hope researchers, a powder made of white button mushrooms was found to reduce the levels of prostate specific antigen, or PSA, in prostate cancer patients whose PSA levels had been rising. And, even better, the powder caused no ill effects. Here's why that matters. A rise in PSA levels in men already treated for prostate cancer can be a harbinger of disease recurrence. So when those levels rise – and continue to rise – men know that further treatment is likely necessary. Men need a way to keep those PSA levels down or, more to the point, help prevent cancer’s recurrence. White button mushrooms could be it.The City of Hope researchers treated 36 prostate cancer patients with the powder, assessing their PSA levels' responsiveness to different doses of the powder and whether the men experienced any ill effects. After months of daily use of the powder, 36 percent of patients experienced some reduction in PSA, with two patients experiencing a remarkable complete response, meaning their PSA levels dropped to undetectable levels. Of note, that complete response continued for 49 and 30 months. The results suggest that chemicals in mushrooms affect the body's immune system, said study author Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at City of Hope. "Some data have suggested that mushroom chemicals could upregulate the cancer-fighting power of our immune system," he said. "It has been reported by other investigators that in some prostate cancers, tumor-suppressing activity of the immune system can be compromised." This study, published May 18 in Cancer, supports that earlier research. The researchers concluded that using white button mushrooms in this manner appears to actually modulate the biology of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer. In other words: White button mushrooms are not Clark Kent, but a "Superfood." The researchers are now planning a new clinical trial to confirm the findings, as well as additional laboratory studies to understand the apparent immune-modulation mechanism of mushrooms, said Przemyslaw Twardowski, M.D., the study's lead author and a clinical professor of medical oncology at City of Hope. The complete list of study authors is Twardowski, Noriko Kanaya, Ph.D., Paul Frankel, Ph.D., Timothy Synold, Pharm.D., Christopher Ruel; Sumanta K. Pal, M.D., Maribel Junqueira, R.N., Manisha Prajapati, R.N., Tina Moore, Pamela Tryon and Chen. The study authors also thanked colleagues Sharon Dension, Ian Talisman, Gene Hur, Shu Mi and Vivi Tran for their assistance. **Learn more about City of Hope's Program in Natural Therapies.**Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online.City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.