Culinary and medicinal mushrooms are widely used in Asian countries, both as dietary supplements and as nutraceutical foods. They have recently become popular in Europe, as well, for their nutritional and health benefits. In particular, epidemiological studies conducted in Asia suggest that mushroom intake, together with other phytotherapy substances, protects against cancer, specifically gastrointestinal (GI) and breast cancers. Most of the data come from in vitro studies and in vivo experimental animal models. Therefore, in order to translate the updated knowledge to clinical research (i.e., from bench to bedside) a systematic translational research program should be initiated. Future randomized controlled trials comparing the effects of G. frondosa and G. lucidum on conventional treatment outcomes are warranted. The purpose of this review was to describe the emerging mechanisms of action of the mushrooms' anticancer functions which makes their use in clinical practice so promising. Clinical effects of mycotherapy (specifically, the use of Ganoderma lucidum and Grifola frondosa) on long-term survival, tumor response, host immune functions, inflammation, and QoL in cancer patients were also addressed. Adverse events associated with mycotherapy were also investigated. Emerging data point to a potential role of G. lucidum for modulating the carcinogenic potential of GI microbiota, which suggests a new complementary and integrated approach to breast cancer treatment.
Keywords: G. frondosa; G. lucidum; breast cancer; immunomodulation; microbiota.