Finally, getting back to fucoidan. A while back I promised to write about confirmed health benefits of fucoidan. Those confirmed by clinical studies that is. For those who waited, sorry for a delay. I’m guilty of procrastination.
- Fucoidan is a molecule isolated from seaweed
- Discovered about century ago, it promises a lot health-wise
- There are plenty of publications on it. However, fucoidan was mostly tested on animals and pieces of flesh. Only a few tests were done on humans
Before getting into official science, do you think you would be interested to hear about a live clinical study? Sure? Okay.
Everyone knows what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is the only time in history when an atomic weapon was put to use. The two cities were obliterated to the core. Besides immediate deaths and other miseries, the bomb meant serious health issues for future generation. That’s because an atomic bomb = nuclear (ionizing) radiation = gene mutations in reproductive cells = cancer in descendants of survivors. Different types of cancer threatened kids and grandkids of those who survived the bombing… However, things went quite different. Contrary to what should be happening right now in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not happening. Children and grandchildren of survivors are born healthy! There are very few inborn genetic abnormalities (Russian source). Unbelievable. This miracle is attributed to seaweed that Japanese eat. Besides other anti-radiation compounds in seaweed, fucoidan is the stuff that neutralized the blows of radiation. Now, relate this to Ukraine and Belarus to some extent. The Chernobyl explosion of 1986? Up to these days, in hospitals, there are heart-tearing scenes of babies born with severe physical abnormalities. It must be said however, that the explosion of Chernobyl plant released much more radiation into the atmosphere than the atomic bomb. And actually USSR government did implement seaweed as one of the methods to deal with the consequences of disaster. By the way, I’m from Belarus and I ate it often as a kid – raw, just soaked in water, splashed with unrefined sunflower oil – it tasted neat! I guess the reach was not large enough. It also might be because the genetic damages in Chernobyl survivors were relatively more pronounced.
At any rate, I think that Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a great example of fucoidan’s potential.
Since I started talking about fucodain’s impact on cancer let’s stick to that today.
On the Internet, there is a considerable amount of claims that fucoidan alleviates and even cures cancer. Visit this forum – posts are screaming that fucoidan is a cure. To be honest, I put quite a bit of weight on the stuff that people write on forums. These are people who are just telling their story. Highly unlikely that they are promoting some kind of idea or pushing a sale. Nevertheless, if a claim is backed by scientific research, you get that comfortable warmish feeling. Especially, if that research is unbiased – the one that doesn’t involve the conflict of interest. In case of fucoidan and its effects on cancer, as of today, literally only two clinical studies are available.
Study # 1: Fucoidan and chemotherapy
This Japanese study published in 2015 showed that fucoidan suppresses fatigue and other bad symptoms associated with chemotherapy. And thus extending life of cancer sufferers. Right away, this may not sound like a big deal. But not so fast. Starting at the beginning.
- The study dealt with 24 people
- All had inoperable advanced gastric cancer. When cancer is inoperable it means it has metastasized (spread to other body parts)
- Also, all were undergoing chemotherapy at the time
- Half of them took fucoidan, other half didn’t (control group). Those in the fucoidan group took 5 grams of fucoidan once a day for 6 months
- Ultimately, it was obvious that fucoidan markedly decreases fatigue and diarrhea associated with chemotherapy. As well as improves appetite. Because of this, the treatment could be continued for longer. The numbers? The mean chemotherapy treatment period of fucoidan group was 7.4 months. This was almost twice as long as that of control group!
- The researchers were satisfied with this seaweed stuff and concluded that fucoidan “should be included as a key food supplement in such patients”.
At the end of the paper there is this statement (which I love): “How fucoidan is able to control general fatigue induced by chemotherapy is unknown, but we will explore this in the future”. That’s common to wrap-up a study like that. The more we know, the more we know how little we know…
Study #2: Fucoidan and inflammation
This one was published only 5 months ago. Again, by Japanese medical doctors and researchers.
It showed that fucoidan lowers inflammation in cancer sufferers.
You may wonder why bothering with inflammation if they had cancer. It’s important because abnormally high level of inflammation establishes a suitable environment for tumor growth. The lower the inflammation level = the lower the chance of tumor development and metastasis = the longer the survival time.
- The study was done on 20 people
- Similar to the previous, all had inoperable cancer
- All 20 were taken 4.05 grams of fucoidan once a day for 4 weeks
- After 2 weeks of fucoidan ingestion, the level of inflammation-promoting factors including interleukin-1β were “significantly reduced“. The evil interleukin-1β plays a crucial role in the initiation of inflammatory pathways. If the level of this thing is high, the survival time of those with advanced cancer is shorter
- Notice that because there was no control group, the results were compared to patient health status before fucoidan treatment. This may have skewed the results a bit. Nevertheless, the above results well worth the efforts spent on the study
As you see both studies were done on critically ill people. Still fucoidan showed itself quite useful in this matter. For now, we are just left wondering how fucoidan may help those who are just diagnosed with this dreadful illness. Or those in its mid stages. Maybe, it can indeed extinguish and ultimately cure cancer when caught early.
Here is my request for Japanese scientists: dear hard-working people, please test fucoidan’s ability to fight cancer on the early stages..!