•Beta-glucan responds to tumor cells by stimulating theproduction of small protein substances within thephagocytic cells called cytokines.
–Cytokines stimulate the macrophages to inhibit tumor cell replication(cytostatic action) and kill the tumor (cytolytic action).
•Because of beta-glucan’s demonstrated ability to activatemacrophages and T-cells, researchers have used it as ananti-cancer treatment by itself, or as a non-toxic adjuvant tochemotherapy.
•In studies of animals injected with tumor cells, researchersfound that animals that were also treated with beta-glucanhad decreased liver metastases compared with controlanimals.
–The beta-glucan-treated mice had a 28 percent increase in survivalcompared to those without beta-glucan.
•Although most research on beta-glucan has been done withanimals, there have been a number of human studies.
–In 1975, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported on theanti-cancer effects of beta-glucan on nine cancer patients, whosuffered from skin, breast, or lung cancer.
–Beta-glucan was injected directly into the tumors. In all cases, beta-glucan reduced the size of the tumor within five days, resulting frominfiltration of immune cells into the cancerous area with subsequentdestruction of the cancer cells.
•A number of clinical studies have been conducted in Japanwith lentinan (a beta-1,3-1,6-glucan derived from theshiitake mushroom).
–Lentinan is considered a drug in Japan, where it is approved forclinical use.
–Japanese scientists have shown that treatment of advanced-cancerpatients with lentinan, by intravenous injection, results in increasednumber and activity of immune killer cells and prolonged survival —sometimes in excess of five or more years.
–According to researchers at the National Cancer Center in Japan,complete tumor elimination was experienced in about 80% ofcancer-induced animals fed extracts from maitake, shiitake, andreishi mushrooms.
•Compounds of each of these mushrooms increased thetumor-fighting activity of NK cells [natural killer cells of theimmune system] and improve antibody responses, butmaitake seems to have the strongest and most consistenteffect. … Unlike other mushroom extracts, the maitakeextract shows strong anticancer activity even whenadministered orally.” (Diamond)