AHCC Mushroom Extract: Japan’s Popular Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapy

Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) is an extract obtained from hybridization of several species of Basidiomycetes mushrooms. The primary components of AHCC are oligosaccharides. About 20% of the oligosaccharides are alpha 1-4 glucans and their acetylated forms. Alpha glucan has a low mlecular weight, thus making it easy to digest and absorb. This unique property of alpha glucan accounts for the powerful immune-stimulating activity of AHCC.

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How does AHCC work?

The immune system is composed of a variety of cells, proteins and molecules that recognise foreign or dangerous invaders in the body and destroy them.

AHCC augments the natural immune response through its effects on cell activation and outcomes.

AHCC has been proven to enhance the immune system by:

  • increasing the production of cytokines,
  • increasing the activity of natural killer (NK) cells,
  • increasing the number of macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells.

Cytokines are proteins secreted by cells that act as chemical messengers to regulate immune responses.

NK cells, macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells are various types of white blood cells that defend the body against infection.

AHCC and Cancer

Traditionally, the Japanese have used natural extracts from mushrooms to support the immune system.

So it’s no coincidence that AHCC was developed in Japan, where it has been widely used as a dietary supplement for more than 20 years. AHCC is often used as a complementary therapy for cancer.

AHCC restores the immune system by activating NK cells and macrophages to attack cancerous cells. Hence, its beneficial effects are not cancer type specific. It has been used to treat liver, lung, stomach, colon, breast, thyroid, ovarian, testicular, tongue, kidney and pancreatic cancers.

Improved Prognosis In Cancer Patients

AHCC may improve survival in non-operable and postoperative cancer patients.

Here are some findings in liver cancer patients treated with AHCC:

1. Increased average survival, improved overall survival and reduced recurrence in postoperative liver cancer patients.

In a study from Feb 1992 to Sept 1999, 151 patients who had undergone curative surgery for primary liver cancer were divided into 2 groups:

  • AHCC group: 70 patients received 3 grams of AHCC per day
  • Control group: 81 patients received no AHCC

Results at the end of the study:

  • Average survival: 23 months longer in the AHCC group vs. the control group
  • Overall survival: 79% in the AHCC group were still alive vs. 51% in the control group
  • Recurrence: 49% in the AHCC group vs. 67% in the control group
  • No reported adverse effects with the use of AHCC
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ImmPower: AHCC supplement for humans

2. Improved remission periods, overall survival and liver function in postoperative liver cancer patients.

Following surgical removal of liver tumour, 269 patients were divided into 2 groups:

  • AHCC group: 113 patients received 3 grams of AHCC per day
  • Control group: 156 received no AHCC

Results at the end of the 10-year study:

  • Reccurence rate: 34.5% in  AHCC group vs. 66.1% in the control group
  • Death rate: 20.4% in the AHCC group vs. 46.8% in the control group

Patients who took AHCC had a recurrence rate of only half of the control group. They also had higher overall survival since their death rate (20.4%) is less than half of that in the control group (46.8%).

3. Prolonged survival and improved prognosis of patients with inoperable, advanced liver cancer.

A study showed that AHCC significantly prolonged survival time in patients with unresectable, advanced liver cancer. After 3 months of AHCC treatment, patients experienced significant improvement in quality of life in terms of mental stability, general physical health status and ability to have normal activities.

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NK-9: AHCC supplement for pets

AHCC & Chemotherapy

AHCC enhances the tumour killing effects of chemotherapy.

An animal study showed that AHCC combined with chemotherapy, UFT, restored NK cell activity inhibited by chemotherapy, reduced metastasis, decreased primary tumour growth and increased macrophage activity.

AHCC & Chemotherapy Side Effects

AHCC reduces chemotherapy toxicity and side effects such as hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, bone marrow suppression and liver damage.

Chemotherapy can significantly reduce neutrophil levels, resulting in a condition called neutropenia. Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cells. Neutropenia increases a patient’s risk of infection and disrupting cancer treatment.

G-CSF injections are used to achieve an adequate white blood cell count before administering chemotherapy drugs. G-CSF stimulates the bone marrow to produce white blood cells, particularly neutrophils. However, side effects commonly occur in at least 30% of G-CSF users.

One study found that AHCC reduced the severity of neutropenia in female breast cancer patients who underwent adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients who took AHCC also had significantly lower usage of G-CSF than those who didn’t.

These results are in concurrence with those of animal studies that showed that AHCC improves bone marrow suppression in mice treated with anti cancer drugs.

AHCC Safety & Side Effects

AHCC has been tested to be a non-toxic and safe functional food. Since it was introduced to the market in 1989, there have been no reported serious side effects.

It is used in over 700 clinics and hospitals in Japan as an adjunctive treatment for cancer, hepatitis and other chronic diseases.

Where To Buy AHCC

AHCC is available in America as ImmPower for humans and NK-9 for pets.

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Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12076865/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16913187
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23829813
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16913187

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