One of the signs of prostate cancer is an elevated blood level of the PSA protein, or prostate specific antigen. It is synthesized by both normal and tumor cells; when there are many tumor cells, the PSA level increases markedly. It is impossible to diagnose cancer only by PSA, other tests are also needed; the amount of PSA increases in other diseases, on the other hand, even an elevated PSA level does not always mean that a person is generally ill with something. However, a PSA test can indeed indicate an incipient tumor in time. The effectiveness of treatment is also assessed by the PSA level: if it becomes less, it means that the cancer is receding.
Staff research center “City of Hope” (USA) write to The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistrythat PSA levels in cancer patients can be reduced by mushroom extract. Mushrooms in general and champignons in particular are considered extremely useful because of the different bioactive substances they contain. However, it takes some experimentation to test if they are really that useful.
The studies were carried out with patients with recurrent tumors. They were given mushroom powder for three months, and 36% of them had a decrease in PSA. But did mushroom extract really work on cancer cells? To test this, the researchers treated cancer cells taken from patients with the extract, and also fed them to experimental animals, which were transplanted with samples of human tumors.
The mushroom extract acted on both cells and transplanted tumors: they not only secreted less PSA, they began to divide and grow more slowly. A prostate tumor grows under the influence of dihydrotestosterone, the more active form of regular testosterone. DHT binds to cell receptors and triggers a signal chain that travels to the nucleus and activates genes that control cell division. Fungi interrupt this signal to divide – the researchers found an active ingredient in the mushroom extract, a derivative of linoleic acid, which prevents dihydrotestosterone from binding to the receptor.
In general, prostate cancer is already treated with drugs that bind to receptors for male sex hormones. But this therapy is fraught with a variety of side effects, from increased fatigue and excess weight to cardiovascular problems. The substance from the mushrooms acts on receptors with greater efficiency, and, moreover, there were no side effects from the use of the extract in mushrooms, either in humans or in animals.
However, so far it has been possible to notice only a decrease in PSA in the blood of patients and the effect of the extract on cells and transplanted tumors. Soon the second series of clinical experiments will begin, and now the researchers will evaluate how the mushroom extract acts on real tumors in their, so to speak, natural environment. And it would be nice if the mushroom powder could be strengthened – so that it helped a larger number of patients, and not just thirty-six percent.
Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by www.nkj.ru.
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