Ganoderma: insights into anticancer effects

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The genus Ganoderma includes about 80 species growing on cut or rotten trees. The most commonly used species is Ganoderma ludicum. Biomolecules responsible for the health benefits of Ganoderma are polysaccharides with an immunostimulative effect and triterpenes with a cytotoxic action. For more than 2000 years, it has been used traditionally in the treatment of various pathological conditions and recently, its immunoregulatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and anticancer potential has been confirmed. A wide range of Ganoderma extracts and preparations arrest the cell cycle in different phases and consequently inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells. Extracts containing polysaccharides stimulate immunological reactions through the production of various cytokines and mobilization of immune system cells. In-vivo studies have confirmed the anticancer potential and the antimetastatic effects of compounds originating from Ganoderma. There is also evidence for the chemopreventive action of Ganoderma extracts in bladder, prostate, liver, and breast cancer. The results of clinical studies suggest the combined use of G. lucidum with conventional chemotherapy/radiotherapy, but the methodology and the results of these studies are being questioned. Therefore, a constant need for new clinical trials exists.

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