Ginseng and Ganoderma lucidum use after breast cancer diagnosis and quality of life: a report from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39343. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039343. Epub 2012 Jun 20.


Objective: To evaluate associations between quality of life (QOL) and use of ginseng and Ganoderma lucidum (G. lucidum) among breast cancer survivors.

Methods: Included in this study were 4,149 women with breast cancer who participated in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study. Ginseng use was assessed at 6-, 18-, and 36-month post-diagnosis surveys; G. lucidum use was assessed at the 6- and 36-month surveys. QOL was evaluated at the 6- and 36-month surveys. Multiple linear regression models were used to examine associations between ginseng and G.lucidum use and QOL assessed at the 36-month survey, with adjustment for potential confounders and baseline QOL.

Results: At 6 months post-diagnosis, 14.2% of participants reported regular use of ginseng and 58.8% reported use of G. lucidum. We found no significant associations between ginseng use at 6, 18, and 36 months post-diagnosis and participants' total QOL score or individual scores for psychological, physical, or social well-being. Post-diagnosis G. lucidum use was positively associated with social well-being (adjusted mean difference: 1.26; 95% CI: 0.66, 1.86), but was inversely associated with physical well-being (adjusted mean difference: -1.16; 95% CI: -1.86, -0.47) with a dose-response pattern observed for cumulative number of times of use (P for trend <0.001 for both).

Conclusion: We found no evidence that post-diagnosis ginseng use improved the QOL of breast cancer survivors. Post-diagnosis G. lucidum use was associated with better social well-being scores, but poorer physical well-being scores.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Panax*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reishi*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult