AHCC as an Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer - New Study is Promising

In a study of the beneficial effects of AHCC supplementation on the alleviation of adverse events in female breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, the results found that those receiving AHCC experienced fewer side-effects, most notably related to neutrophils.

Neutrophils make up 50%-75% of white blood cells and are the first immune cells to respond to and arrive at the site of infection.  Chemotherapy frequently causes a drastic drop in neutrophils (a condition called neutropenia), putting the patient at a greater risk of infection.  Patients also wait for their neutrophil levels to recover before proceeding to their next cycle of chemotherapy which prolongs the length of treatment.  So the ability to maintain healthy neutrophil levels not only reduces the risk of infections but also enables women to get through their treatment faster.  This is why this latest study showing that AHCC, a natural compound with an excellent safety profile, can help maintain healthy neutrophil levels is very significant.

The researchers at the University of Tokyo retrospectively analyzed 41 consecutive adult patients who underwent adjuvant chemotherapy to see how many of them had to undergo injections of “G-CSF” which are used to stimulate bone marrow production but also entail a number of potential side-effects affecting an estimated 30% of users.  They found that those taking AHCC had significantly lower use of G-CSF drugs than those without the supplement, indicating that AHCC helped the patients maintain normal neutrophil levels without having to use these side-effect inducing drugs.  The study was presented at The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) – an annual conference attended by 2,500 interdisciplinary healthcare professionals.  

AHCC Used in Immunotherapy Treatments for Breast Cancer

One prior study on AHCC as an immunotherapy for breast cancer patients, published in the International Journal of Integrative Oncology, showed that Stage IV recurrent breast cancer patients taking AHCC had longer survival rates than Japan’s national average.  Other studies, including those conducted at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center, examined the potential for drug-to-drug interaction of AHCC to provide doctors with guidance on using this immunotherapy for breast cancer patients.  Additional studies on patients with various cancers and animal studies have demonstrated that AHCC reduces other side-effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, hair loss, liver damage and bone marrow function.

Immunotherapy and AHCC

This study was undertaken because multiple previous clinical studies demonstrated AHCC’s ability to strengthen the body’s natural immune response by increasing the number and activity of important white blood cells (namely, Natural Killer “NK” Cells, Dendritic Cells and T Cells) and cytokines “tumor necrosis factor” and “gamma interferon” – chemical messengers which help activate the immune system.  Some previous studies on AHCC have examined its efficacy as an immunotherapy for other cancers.  For example, one human clinical study followed 269 patients with advanced post-surgical liver cancer found that the group taking AHCC had a statistically significant longer survival rates and lower tumor recurrence rates than the group without the supplement.

The Future: AHCC As Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer

Additional studies on AHCC as an immunotherapy for breast cancer patients are currently being undertaken in the Phillipines, while researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center are conducting in vitro and animal studies to test if AHCC can work synergistically with chemotherapy drugs.