Evidence Against

An open-label study compared the effect of extracts from Agaricus blazei (Murill mushroom) with G. lucidum among 47 men who experience biochemical failure after radical treatment of prostate cancer.15 There was no effect of either mushroom extract on the primary endpoint of partial response rate (defined as at least a 50% decrease in serum prostate-specific antigen).

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Another open-label study of men with advanced lung cancer evaluated the effect of water-soluble polysaccharides from G. lucidum on immune function.16 There was high variability among the 36 patients, but overall there was no significant difference in mean mitogenic reactivity to phytohemagglutinin, or levels of CD3, CD4, CD8, CD56, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-6, interferon-gamma, or NK activity.


There are multiple, consistent in vitro reports of anticancer activity through several molecular mechanisms that suggest Reishi mushrooms may have anticancer activity.

A paucity of clinical trials exists using Reishi mushroom or its extract, and, of the trials conducted, the data do not support its use. To date, the only positive study showed improved response to chemotherapy. This is hypothesis-generating; more research is needed to determine if Reishi mushroom has any anticancer effects, including a synergistic or sensitizing effect with other agents.


  1. Stanley G, Harvey K, Silvova V, Jiang J, Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses angiogenesis through the inhibition of secretion of VEGF and TGF-beta1 from prostate cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005;330:46-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.02.116
  2. Dai S, Liu J, Sun X, Wang N. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of human ovarian cancer cells by suppressing VEGF expression and up-regulating the expression of connexin 43. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:434. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-434
  3. Yang G, Yang L, Zhuang Y, Qian X, Shen Y. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide exerts anti-tumor activity via MAPK pathways in HL-60 acute leukemia cells. J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2015;36:6-13. doi: 10.3109/10799893.2014.970275
  4. Lin SB, Li CH, Lee SS, Kan LS. Triterpene-enriched extracts from Ganoderma lucidum inhibit growth of hepatoma cells via suppressing protein kinase C, activating mitogen-activated protein kinases and G2-phase cell cycle arrest. Life Sci. 2003;72:2381-2390.
  5. Wang T, Xie ZP, Huang ZS, et al. Total triterpenoids from Ganoderma lucidum suppresses prostate cancer cell growth by inducing growth arrest and apoptosis. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2015;35:736-741.
  6. Reis FS, Lima RT, Morales P, Ferreira IC, Vasconcelos MH. Methanolic extract of Ganoderma lucidum induces autophagy of AGS human gastric tumor cells. Molecules. 2015;20:17872-82. doi: 10.3390/molecules20101787
  7. Ruan W, Wei Y, Popovich DG. Distinct responses of cytotoxic Ganoderma lucidum triterpenoids in human carcinoma cells. Phytother Res. 2015;29:1744-52. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5426
  8. Liang Z, Guo YT, Yi YJ, Wang RC, Hu QL, Xiong XY. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides target a Fas/caspase dependent pathway to induce apoptosis in human colon cancer cells. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15:3981-6.
  9. Liang Z, Yi Y, Guo Y, Wang R, Hu Q, Xiong X. Chemical characterization and antitumor activities of polysaccharide extracted from Ganoderma lucidum. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15:9103-16. doi: 10.3390/ijms15059103
  10. Wu G, Qian Z, Guo J, et al. Ganoderma lucidum extract induces G1 cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Am J Chin Med. 2012;40:631-42.
  11. Thyagarajan A, Jedinak A, Nguyen H, et al. Triterpenes from Ganoderma lucidum induce autophagy in colon cancer through the inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated kinase (p38 MAPK). Nutr Cancer. 2010;62:630-40. doi: 10.1080/01635580903532390
  12. Müller CI, Kumagai T, O’Kelly J, Seeram NP, Heber D, Koeffler HP. Ganoderma lucidum causes apoptosis in leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma cells. Leuk Res. 2006;30:841-8. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2005.12.004
  13. Jin X, Ruiz Beguerie J, Sze DM, Chan GC. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;4:CD007731. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007731.pub3
  14. Suprasert P, Apichartpiyakul C, Sakonwasun C, Nitisuwanraksa P, Phuackchantuck R. Clinical characteristics of gynecologic cancer patients who respond to salvage treatment with Lingzhi. Asian J Cancer Prev. 2014;15:4193-6.
  15. Yoshimura K, Kamoto T, Ogawa O, et al. Medical mushrooms used for biochemical failure after radical treatment for prostate cancer: an open-label study. Int J Urol. 2010;17:548-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2042.2010.02528.x
  16. Gao Y, Tang W, Dai X, et al. Effects of water-soluble Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on the immune functions of patients with advanced lung cancer. J Med Food. 2005;8:159-68. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2005.8.159