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Frequently Asked Questions

 


Do you know anything about the product called “Sun Soup”? I have lung cancer and I have heard that this product is good for that disease. Can you advise me if this is worth using?

Sun Soup is a mixture of vegetables and herbs that has been used for treating non-small cell lung cancer. The mixture was developed by Alexander Sun Ph.D., a biochemist once affiliated with Yale University. The soup contains the following ingredients: Water, Soybean, Mushroom, Red Date, Scallion, Garlic, Lentil Bean, Leek, Mung Bean, Hawthorn Fruit, Onion, American Ginseng, Angelica Root, Licorice, Dandelion Root, Senegal Root, Ginger, Olive, Sesame Seed and Parsley.

These are common vegetables and medicinal herbs, all of which have constituents with demonstrated anti-cancer and/or immune-stimulating activity. For example, the Shiitake mushroom used in the soup contains a polysaccharide called lentinan. Lentinan has been researched extensively by the Japanese, and several controlled studies have found it to be beneficial as a complementary therapy in stomach, colon, esophageal and lung cancers along with conventional cancer therapy. (It is important to note, however, that lentinan was given by injection in these patients and not taken orally.)

There have been no randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies done with Sun Soup thus far, although a few uncontrolled, nonrandomized studies on very small patient populations showed that intake of Sun Soup increased median survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer from 4.8 months to 15.5 months. The study also showed patients taking Sun Soup maintained their weights better than patients not taking the soup and improved their performance scores, with no clinical side effects or toxicities.

Dr. Sun has presented his intriguing but highly preliminary research at several cancer conferences focusing on complementary cancer therapies. Dr. Bruce Johnson, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute states that “diet is important”, but is not convinced that any one nutrition therapy can be used as a cure. He states the studies done by Dr. Sun “fall short in almost every thing we ever do in clinical studies.”

I concur that further studies need to be done on products such as Sun Soup. However, I believe the work Dr. Sun has already done points to the potential benefit of nutritional modifications after a cancer diagnosis for enhancing both quality of life and length of life.

Unfortunately, Sun Soup is very expensive. A thirty-day supply currently (January 2005) costs $600-650. It is available either freeze-dried or frozen (shipped on dry ice). I have personally tried both versions and found them acceptable but not particularly tasty. In addition, I consumed the soup several years after I finished chemotherapy, when my taste sensations were back to normal. I believe it would take a very motivated patient to consume either version on a continual basis as suggested by Dr. Sun.

A large amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, soy products, Shiitake mushrooms and other healthy foods could be purchased for the same amount of money. Perhaps the main benefit of purchasing the soup is the ease of simply not having to think about which healthy foods to purchase, cook, and consume.

If you choose to use Sun Soup as a sole therapy for your cancer, I recommend you do so only after a very thorough discussion with your oncologist about the risks and benefits of conventional cancer therapies for your individual situation on both length of life and quality of life. I would also advise you to discuss with your oncologist all of the complementary or alternative therapies you may be using. Lastly, I also recommend you ask for a consultation with the Registered Dietitian (RD) at the cancer center for a full assessment of your individual nutritional needs to help optimize your response to therapy and quality of life.

Up to date information about Sun Soup has been summarized by the National Cancer Institute at the following website.

My best wishes to you.
Diana Dyer

References:

The Cancer Guide Page By Steve Dunn. Last updated October 7, 2001; http://www.cancerguide.org/sun_soup.html

Sia GM, Candish JK. Effects of Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) extract on human neutrophils and theU937monocytic cell line. Phytother Res 1999;13 (2):133-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10190187&dopt=Abstract.

Borchers AT, Stern JS, Hackman RM, Keen CL, Gershwin ME. Mushrooms, tumors, and immunity. Proc Soc Biol Med 1999;221 (4):281-93. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10460691&dopt=Abstract.

Wasser, SP. Medicinal mushrooms as a source of antitumor and immunomodulating
polysaccharides.Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 2002 Nov;60(3):258-74. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12436306&dopt=Abstract.

Kagawa R, Nakayama N, Yamaguchi T, Sakata S, Tada M. Postoperative adjuvant immunochemotherapy using Lentinan for advanced gastric carcinoma patients with metastasis in the regional lymph nodes and serosal invasion, Gan To Kagaku Ryoho, Nov;29(11):1989-94, 2002. (article in Japanese, abstract in English)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12465402&dopt=Abstract.

Sun AS, Ostadal O, Tyznar V, Dulik I, Dused J, Baclavid A, Yeh HC, Hsu C, Bruckner HW, Fasy TM. Phase I/II study of stage III and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients taking a specific dietary supplement. Nutr and Cancer 1999;34(1):62-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11714106&dopt= Abstract.

Sun AS, Yeh HC, Wang LH, Huang YP, Maeda H, Pivazyan A, Hsu C, Lewis ER,
Bruckner HW, Fasy TM. Pilot study of a specific dietary supplement in tumor-bearing mice and in stage IIIB and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients. Nutr Cancer 2001;39(1):85-95.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11588907&dopt=Abstract
Complete article available to view online: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/407688

Sun Farm Corporation - http://www.sunfarmcorp.com/ phone number to place an order for Sun Soup (203) 882-8000.

Researched and written by Julie Bruce, RD, as part of graduate work in nutrition at Eastern Michigan University. Final editing done by Diana Dyer, MS, RD.

Updated January 2005

 

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Lung Cancer

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These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.


 
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