HOUSTON (KABC) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the human papillomavirus or HPV is linked to more than 99 percent of all cervical cancer cases. But there's no effective medicine or supplement to treat HPV.
Now, a potentially huge scientific discovery has been made. New research shows a supplement made from a mushroom extract may help eliminate HPV infections.
Along with a pap smear, doctors routinely test for HPV.
"HPV is present in 60 to 80 percent of all women at some time in their life, so it's a very common infection to have," said Dr. Steven Rabin of Advanced Gynecology Solutions.
Once a woman tests positive, all doctors can do is monitor them for early signs of cancer.
Now, new research is pointing to a popular over the counter supplement to clear this infection.
In a pilot study of 10 women, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found a potential, powerful treatment in a Japanese mushroom extract called active hexose correlated compound (AHCC).
"For the first time, we demonstrated that a nutritional supplement like AHCC used for three to six months was able to eradicate the HPV infection. This confirms all of our preclinical study findings," Dr. Judith Smith, the principal investigator of the study, said
She says AHCC modulates the immune system to kill off infections as well as inhibit tumor growth.
About 80 percent of women who test positive for an HPV infection are able to clear the virus in about a year. In this small study, about 50 percent of participants cleared their HPV infections within three months.
"In this short time, it looks like this is better than the natural progression of HPV," Rabin said.
He says more research needs to be done before he would recommend his patients take the supplement. But he says decades of research have shown this compound appears to be safe.
"I think that this is one of those things that's in the category of 'couldn't hurt,'" Rabin said. "Hopefully, this study gets enough people enrolled where this will become something that we can all embrace and be comfortable to recommend."
The next step for this research includes a randomized, double blind, phase two clinical trial which has just gotten underway at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The study is expected to follow participants for six months of treatment.
Mushroom extract could help treat HPV