Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus which, in high-risk variants, leads to 45,000 cases of cancer each year, including cervical cancer, throat cancer, and others. As the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in both men and women, HPV affects more than 79 million adults who are sexually active. What’s worse is that high-risk HPV is invisible to the eye, and women must be screened for it to be diagnosed while currently there is no approved testing for men.
While your body is designed to clear an active HPV infection on its own, your immune system is working hard every day. Whether you are awake or sleeping, it’s actively fighting off infections, clearing non-infectious diseases, injuries, and repairing cellular damage. Persistent active HPV infection can exhaust this natural defense to the point that proper diet, restful sleep, regular exercise, and other healthy choices alone may not be effective in providing your immune system adequate support. With no current FDA approved systemic treatments for the virus itself, screening for HPV and the cancers it can cause, continued research, and preventative measures such as the HPV vaccine are crucial.
Immune Support Could Bridge the Gap
One recent study, assessing the effectiveness of a Japanese medicinal mushroom extract (AHCC®) in clearing active high-risk HPV infections, has shown promising results. AHCC® is a proprietary extract from the roots of Lentinula edodes(shiitake) mushrooms. The ingredient has been scientifically proven through more than 30 human clinical studies to help the immune system battle viruses and other illnesses, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, influenza, MRSA, cancer, West Nile Virus, Hepatitis C, and even Lyme disease.
AHCC® works by modulating the immune system and improving your body’s natural defense against infection. The recent Phase II study, led by Dr. Judith A. Smith, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, focused on women with a greater than two-year history of persistent high-risk HPV. The clinical trial found that 63 percent of women taking 3g of the AHCC® supplement once a day for six months had cleared persistent HPV infection. Additionally, the study participants did not experience any adverse side effects.
"Our results showed that AHCC supplementation helped most patients in the AHCC arm of the trial become HPV-negative, therefore potentially may decrease the long-term risk of HPV-related cancers," said Smith, lead researcher on the study. "Importantly, through multiple studies, we have shown that the AHCC supplement is safe and readily available, so patients can ask their clinicians about using it to support their immune system in clearing persistent HPV infections."
Additional research is needed, but the research team at UTHealth McGovern Medical School is on the path to reducing, and hopefully eliminating, the risk of HPV-related cancers in both women. In the meantime, women should prioritize regular HPV and PAP screening, HPV vaccination and now, the option to use AHCC® supplementation to help support their immune system to clear HPV if already infected.
The AHCC® supplement is on the market and available to consumers through several reputable nutritional supplement brands including Quality of Life. Women looking to purchase AHCC® should discuss any questions about the supplement and their HPV diagnosis with their doctor. The AHCC Association also warns consumers to avoid fake products sold under different product names and stick to the list of authentic verified AHCC® products mentioned above.