There has been a lot of buzz around Lion's mane and cancer lately. In many experimental studies, this miracle mushroom has been noted to help fight cancer cells. Some even recommend taking the mushroom alongside cancer treatments for added benefits.
Below we will explore what we know about Lion's mane cancer effects. First, we will talk about the different types of cancer that have benefitted from this curious-looking mushroom. We will then clear some of your doubts by showing you how the health benefits of Lion's mane reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Let's jump right in!
Lion's Mane For Cancer: Benefits Of Lion's Mane For Different Types Of Cancer
Hericium Erinaceus, or Lion's mane mushroom, is one of the healthiest fungi in alternative medicine. The mushroom treats depression, fights anxiety, eliminates inflammation, and restores brain health in people with Alzheimer's disease & dementia.
Read More: See how Lion's mane fights dementia.
This fungus also works when used as an anti-cancer drug. The mushroom's polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and other bioactive ingredients effectively fight all types of cancers. Studies have shown that Lion's mane mushroom is beneficial in cancers of the breast, digestive tract (including the stomach), bladder, white blood cells, and lungs.
Moreover, the mushroom is known to eliminate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, which are often used in various stages of cancer treatment.
However, how does this mushroom function as a mechanism for preventing cancer development and growth? How does Lion's mane boost the health of cancer patients?
To answer these questions, we will need to take a deeper look at how the various bioactive compounds in Lion's mane mushroom supplements operate. First, let's look at the mechanism behind the anti-cancer properties and each of Lion's mane mushroom cancer benefits.
A study(1) conducted on mice with cancer cells has shown that Lion's mane mushroom exhibits its anti-cancer effects by inducing the activity of specific blood cells—these are macrophages and Natural Killer (NK) cells.
These immune cells produce enzymes that can kill tumor cells. They are the cells that defend our bodies against diseases.
The mushroom extracts—and Lion's mane mushroom supplements—also inhibited angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels to feed the cancer cells) that contributed to the tumor size reduction.
Read More: Learn how to choose between Lion's mane powder and extracts when shopping for this mushroom's supplements for cancer treatment.
In another study(2) looking at the health benefits of Lion's mane mushroom supplement when it comes to cancerous diseases, the aromatic compounds found in Lion's mane caused apoptosis of cancer cells. This is a mechanism in which the cells undergo spontaneous death programmed by the cell.
Now let's take a closer look at some specific cancers that can benefit from Lion's mane mushroom supplement.
Lion's Mane Breast Cancer Effects
When it comes to lions mane cancer treatment, breast cancer is one of the most addressed conditions because it is prevalent. Research studies on Lion's mane cancer relationship have shown that the fungus may benefit breast cancer patients.
Researchers studied Lion's mane mushroom breast cancer effects in 2021. The results were published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms(3). The study on breast cancer treatment with Lion's mane produced positive results for cancer patients.
The 2021 study explored the anti-cancer effects of Lion's mane supplements on receptor-positive (ER+) human breast adenocarcinoma cells. The mushroom's water extract could inhibit the cell survival of breast cancer cells. In addition, treatment with Lion's mane significantly induced apoptosis and arrested the progression of the cellular proliferation cycle.
Overall, the result of the study provided in vitro evidence that extracts of Lion's mane could be a potent candidate for the treatment of breast cancer. The study also suggested that if women know how to use Lion's mane powder early enough, they may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Lion's Mane And Leukemia
It is not uncommon for people to look at the relationship between Lion's mane and cancer and yet forget about Leukemia. Leukemia, or cancer of white blood cells, is what we commonly refer to as blood cancer.
Research studies have shown that when using Lion's mane for cancer, the Erinacines, Hericenones, and other bioactive ingredients in the mushroom can help inhibit blood cancer growth and development.
Read More:Learn whether to take Lion's mane with or without food when using it for cancer treatment.
In a 2011 study(4) performed on human leukemia cells, both aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Lion's mane mushroom aided in cancer cell apoptosis. The results from this lions mane mushroom cancer study indicate that Hericium Erinaceus mushrooms may have therapeutic potential against human leukemia cells.
Similarly, aromatic compounds(5) isolated from the alcoholic extract of the fruiting bodies of Lion's mane mushroom significantly reduced cell proliferation in human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells. Furthermore, these same compounds also induced the apoptosis of the tumor cells. The data suggest that Lion's mane fruiting body compounds may be suitable for use in potential leukemia treatments.
Read More: Wondering how to turn Lion's mane fruiting bodies into a meal? Use our detailed Lion's mane mushroom recipes.
Lion's Mane Lung Cancer Benefits
Hericium Erinaceus offers the ability to scavenge free radicals and induce apoptosis in lung cancer(6) cells in humans, according to a 2020 study. Peptides obtained from these edible mushrooms have antioxidant abilities and demonstrate antiproliferative activity against human lung carcinoma cells. The mushroom also can induce apoptosis.
Four extracts of Hericium Erinaceus were investigated for their ability to stop the spread of tumor cells, also known as antimetastatic activity(7). The hot water extracts of Lion's mane mushroom strongly elicited cancer cell death through apoptosis and inhibited metastasis of cancer cells to the lungs by 66% and 69%, respectively.
Lion's Mane Brain Cancer Evidence
Lion's mane is one of the best mushrooms for brain health. For this reason, when people think of the mushroom, they often think about its ability to fight mild cognitive impairment and boost brain function.
While Lion's mane clears brain fog, the mushroom goes beyond the neurodegenerative diseases that cause brain damage to help with brain cancer. For example, Glioma, one of the most common tumors of the central nervous system, may benefit from Lion's mane mushroom.
Two new natural products, Erinacerin O and Erinacerin P, were isolated and identified from Hericium Erinaceus in this 2020 study(8). The experiment showed that the compounds could increase the apoptosis rate and reduce the replication of cancer cells.
Researchers concluded that the compounds obtained from Hericium Erinaceus could be potential novel inhibitors of Glioma.
Lion's Mane Gastrointestinal Cancer Effects
Gastrointestinal cancers have been known to damage the digestive health of a large number of people. Moreover, the more conventional way of dealing with this type of cancer causes side effects. Luckily, using bioactive compounds in Lion's mane mushrooms has been proven beneficial by research studies in this type of cancer.
The anti-cancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers was explored in this 2014 study published in the Journal of ethnopharmacology(9). While the gastric cancer research study used mice, the reported benefits published in the research article may also be effective in human cancer patients.
Two extracts of the mushroom (named HTJ5 and HTJ5A) were used for the study. For the in vitro study, mice bearing liver, colon, and gastric cancer cells were used.
Antitumor efficacy and cytotoxicity of the extracts on these cancer cells were then studied. The results obtained from the research study suggested that Lion's mane may be effective in dealing with all types of Gastrointestinal cancers, including colon cancer.
500 and 1000 mg/kg/day of Lion's mane extracts were used and compared to the effects of another anti-cancer medication: 5-fluorouracil. This Lion's mane dosage proved to be effective in fighting gastrointestinal cancer.
Tumor volumes and body weight were measured daily during the first ten days and 2-3 times a week afterward. Results showed significant antitumor efficacy of the mushroom extract and were found to be more effective than 5-FU against the four tumors with less toxicity.
This suggests that the compounds have the potential as anti-cancer agents for treating gastrointestinal cancer. You can use the mushroom alone or with other clinically used chemotherapeutic drugs.
In another study on colorectal cancer(10), Erinacine A, one of the major bioactive diterpenoid compounds extracted from the mycelia of Lion's mane mushroom, displayed great antitumorigenic activity. Furthermore, the study found that the treatment with Erinacine A induces cell apoptosis of the colorectal cancer cells, thereby providing a new mechanism for Erinacine A treatment in vitro and in vivo.
The mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis and prevent tumor growth in gastrointestinal and other types of cancers. If you already have human cancer cells in your system, research has found that Lion's mane supplementation will help restore your health quickly.
Read More: Learn how to use Lion's mane for maximum cancer prevention and treatment benefits.
Lion's mane pancreatic cancer benefits have yet to be explored.
How The Health Benefits Of Lion's Mane Mushroom Reduce The Risk Of Cancer Cells
While we have looked at the various mechanisms through which Lion's mane fights cancer directly, let's take a look at how the mushroom's anti-cancer potential manifests in other health benefits:
Lion's Mane Mushrooms Diabetes Benefits And Cancer
Molecular science, human, and animal studies have shown that diabetes goes beyond increasing the risk of heart disease to increasing cancer risk. For example, a research study conducted in 2021(11) determined that diabetes is a risk factor for certain cancers, including, pancreatic, liver, colon, breast, and endometrial cancer.
A different research article(12) had similar results. It noted that diabetes significantly increases the risk of cancer.
It is thought that the presence of high levels of glucose in the blood feeds cancer cells, allowing them to grow and mutate. Luckily natural supplements from the hedgehog mushroom are known to cut short this process.
Lion's mane offers diabetes benefits—the mushroom helps diabetes patients keep their blood sugar levels under control. Animal studies have shown that Lion's mane can significantly lower blood sugar levels in diabetic and healthy mice.
One such research study was conducted in 2013(13), where Lion's mane was administered to diabetic rats for 28 days. The administration of Lion's mane extract to the diabetic rats for four weeks significantly decreased the serum glucose level. It also increased serum insulin levels, resulting in the mice having better control of their blood sugar levels.
This Lion's mane diabetes benefit does not just treat cancer; it also helps diabetic people avoid dealing with cancer in the future. For example, it boosts the intestinal immune system, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal cancers.
Read More: See howLion's mane treats neuropathy in diabetic patients.
Lion's Mane Weight Loss Benefits & Cancer
Obesity has many negative health impacts—beyond destroying a strong immune system, it increases cancer risk. According to the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC)(14), obesity increases the risk of 13 cancers, including cancers of the breast, liver, colon, thyroid, uterus, and others.
The National Cancer Institute(15) has a fact sheet that further confirms that obesity results in an increased risk of suffering from cancer. In addition, a research study conducted in 2016(16) determined that up to 20% of cancers result from obesity.
Luckily for people dealing with obesity, Lion's mane has weight loss benefits. The mushroom improves the body's metabolism, accelerating weight loss.
Also, to eliminate obesity and excess body weight, which we have noted as risk factors for cancer, the mushroom helps people lower the number of calories they consume daily. In addition, when people take Lion's mane pre-workout, they can work out more, which allows them to shed excess body weight.
With human studies confirming that lower body weight reduces the risk factors of cancer development, consuming Lion's mane can help you boost your long-term health.
Lion's Mane Anti-Inflammatory Benefits And Cancer
Inflammation is a leading cause of cancer. An article published in the National Library of Medicine(17) noted that if the underlying cause of the inflammation doesn't go away or certain control systems meant to stop the process from continuing fail or malfunction, the inflammation may become chronic. Chronic inflammatory responses can lead to cell proliferation and mutation, frequently fostering the conditions for cancer growth.
Luckily, Lion's mane is a powerful antioxidant. The mushroom is known to fight oxidative stress, which is a leading cause of inflammation. The mushroom's ability to fight chronic inflammation lowers the risk of cancer.
Lion's Mane Sleep Benefits And Cancer
Several research studies have shown a connection between poor sleep and cancer. For example, an article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine(18) noted that breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer risk might increase if the body's "biological clock," which regulates sleep and thousands of other activities, is disrupted. According to the article, working nighttime shifts for numerous years while being exposed to light may lower melatonin levels, promoting cancer growth.
Some of Lion's mane potential brain-boosting benefits come from the fungus's ability to boost sleep. When Lion's mane is taken before bed, it helps users unwind and enjoy a more satisfying deep sleep.
Since research shows there may be a link between poor sleep and cancer, Lion's mane mushroom extract goes beyond fighting cognitive impairment with its sleep benefits to help people reduce the risk of cancer.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Lion's Mane?
It is easy to assume that taking Lion's mane will give your immune function a boost and will not cause any side effects. But is this the case?
Is it safe to take Lion's mane mushroom supplements for all types of cancer without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions?
There is a common misconception that anything natural cannot harm. However, you should avoid Lion's mane mushroom supplements on certain anti-cancer treatments. Research has shown that several Lion's mane drug interactions exist.
For instance, avoid the mushroom if you are on paclitaxel treatment for Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Also, avoid taking the fungus if you have a genetic risk of cancer due to a mutation of gene CDC73.
Your disease will influence whether Lion's mane mushroom will be safe. Factors like cancer type, ongoing treatments, age, physical parameters, lifestyle, and any genetic mutations identified will matter. For these reasons, before taking Lion's mane for cancer, always talk to a qualified healthcare professional.
Can Lion's Mane Cause Cancer?
No evidence points to the cancer-causing effect of Lion's mane. Instead, Lion's mane mushroom has shown the potential to fight off tumor cells.
How Does Lion's Mane Affect The Brain?
Lion's mane is a powerful brain tonic that helps with brain fog and causes improvements in memory, focus, and cognition.
Hericium Erinaceus can potentially serve as a health-promoting functional food with an additional anti-cancer effect.
Lion's mane cancer benefits have been seen in the breast, lungs, digestive tract, white blood cells, and brain tumors. Consult your healthcare provider if you want to load up on these benefits of the mushroom.
Have you used Lion's mane for cancer or any other health condition? We would love to know about your experience with this medicinal fungus. Talk to us in the comments.
- Composition and mechanism of antitumor effects of Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts in tumor-bearing mice, (1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21846141/
- Isolation and identification of aromatic compounds in Lion's Mane Mushroom and their anti-cancer activities, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25306354/
- Transcriptome-Wide Analysis Reveals the Molecular Mechanism of Tumoricidal Effects of Lion's Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells, (3)https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,367ee73d7a1caab0,3d4c5fa53a165c60.html
- Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21779573/
- Isolation and identification of aromatic compounds in Lion's Mane Mushroom and their anti-cancer activities (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25306354/
- Peptides obtained from edible mushrooms: Hericium erinaceus offers the ability to scavenge free radicals and induce apoptosis in lung cancer cells in humans, (6)https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/fo/d0fo00227e
- Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-tansplanted mice, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23668749/
- Erinacerins, Novel Glioma Inhibitors from Hericium erinaceus, Induce Apoptosis of U87 Cells through Bax/Capase-2 Pathway (8)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32753025/
- Anti-cancer potential of Hericium erinaceus extracts against human gastrointestinal cancers, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24631140/
- Induction Apoptosis of Erinacine A in Human Colorectal Cancer Cells Involving the Expression of TNFR, Fas, and Fas Ligand via the JNK/p300/p50 Signaling Pathway With Histone Acetylation, (10)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.01174/full
- Diabetes and Cancer: Risk, Challenges, Management and Outcomes, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8616213/
- Diabetes and Cancer, (12)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/
- Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic activities of aqueous extract of Hericium erinaceus in experimental diabetic rats, (13)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3852124/
- Obesity and Cancer, (14)https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/obesity/index.htm
- Obesity and Cancer,(15) https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet
- The Relationship Between Obesity and Cancer, (16)https://www.acc.org/latest-in cardiology/articles/2016/10/06/10/05/the-relationship-between-obesity-and-cancer
- Inflammation and Cancer (17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6704802/
- Lack of Sleep and Cancer: Is There a Connection?, (18)https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/lack-of-sleep-and-cancer-is-there-a-connection