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Mushrooms hold Cancer Fighting Properties, Study Reports

Update Date: Mar 25, 2014 03:01 PM EDT

Not all foods are made the same. Researchers have known that certain types of foods, such as leafy greens and berries can be extremely beneficial for human health, while others, such as red meat can harm the body in the long run. In a new study, researchers examined the potential health benefits of mushrooms and found a proprietary extract from the fungi that could potentially treat cervical cancer.

For this study, the researchers extracted the active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) from the thread-like parts of Japanese shiitake mushrooms. The team then used the AHCC to treat cervical cancer cells created in mice models. Within the time span of 90 days, the researchers found that the property was capable of eliminating HPV infections. AHCC also helped reduce the rate of cervical cancer growth.

"The results of this study were very encouraging," Dr. Judith A. Smith, at the University of Texas Health Science Center Medial School at Houston, and lead researcher on this study, said reported by CBS Houston. "This study, initiated in 2008, shows that by itself AHCC has the potential to treat the HPV infection."

The researchers concluded that AHCC could potentially prevent HPV-caused cancers from developing. HPV, which stands for the human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause cervical cancer, throat and mouth cancer, and genital warts. There are also other HPV strains that are generally harmless. HPV is one of the most common STIs and roughly three-quarters of all women contract the virus at some point in their lives.

According to the researchers, AHCC appears to work by encouraging the body's immune system to fight the virus. When AHCC enters the body, it boosts the number and activity levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and cytokines. These cells then fight off the infection more effectively. AHCC is currently used as an alternative cancer therapy in Japan.

"AHCC is a common, well tolerated nutritional supplement that has been used for decades in Japan. I am very excited to be pursuing a nutritional approach to trying to find a treatment for HPV infections," Dr. Smith said according to the Dailymail. "We had previously demonstrated an antiretroviral regimen that successfully eradicated the HPV infection but wanted to develop a more benign protocol, since these medications have a number of side effects."

The study was presented at the Society of Gynecological Oncology 45th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer taking place in Tampa, FL.

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