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Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup (PDQ®)

Patient Version

Questions and Answers About Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup

  1. What is Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup?

    “Selected Vegetables” and “ Sun's Soup ” are names given to several different mixtures of vegetables and herbs that are being studied as treatments for cancer and other medical conditions, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The following versions have been used:

  2. What is the history of the discovery and use of Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?

    The vegetable and herb mixture now called Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup was developed to treat cancer.

    • In the mid-1980's, the developer created the mixture to treat a relative who was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer and not helped by standard treatment. The mixture contained shiitake mushroom, mung bean, and the herbs Hedyotis diffusa and barbat skullcap. The developer believed these ingredients contain substances that may block the growth of cancer cells and/or help the body's immune system attack cancer cells. The relative was reported to be alive and free of cancer more than 13 years later. Three more patients with advanced cancer were treated with a combination of shiitake mushroom and mung bean. These patients were also reported to benefit from the treatment.
    • In 1992, the developer applied for a patent for Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup as an herbal treatment of cancer. The developer reported on animal studies done in mice (see Question 5). The developer then began doing clinical trials (see Question 6) to test Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup in cancer patients.
    • In 1995, the developer was awarded a patent for Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup.

    Many of the vegetables and herbs in Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup were chosen because previous research and traditional Chinese medicine suggest they contain anticancer phytochemicals (substances found in plants that may have effects on the body). These include substances such as protease inhibitors, plant sterols, and isoflavones. These ingredients may block the growth of cancer cells and/or improve the way the body's immune system attacks cancer cells.

  3. What is the theory behind the claim that Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup is useful in treating cancer?

    The theory is that certain ingredients in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup may contain phytochemicals that have significant anticancer effects in humans. One of these ingredients is shiitake mushroom. Lentinan, which is taken from shiitake mushroom, has been used in Japan to treat stomach and colon cancer after surgery. Treatment with lentinan is reported to help patients with stomach cancer live longer and have a better quality of life. Lentinan may not be easily absorbed by the body from food, so it is usually given by injection. Other substances in shiitake mushroom that are more easily used by the body from food have shown anticancer activity in animal tests.

  4. How is Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup administered?

    Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup is eaten as part of the diet. Daily doses of either 1 ounce of the DSV (mixed with water or other soup) or 10 ounces of the FSV were used in clinical trials.

  5. Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup?

    Few preclinical studies have been done with Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup. Research in a laboratory or using animals is done to find out if a drug, procedure, or treatment is likely to be useful in humans. Preclinical studies are done before clinical trials (in humans) are begun.

    A small number of mice were injected with tumor cells and fed either standard food or food mixed with one or more ingredients from Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup. The researchers reported that the growth of tumors was slower in the mice that were fed the Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup ingredients, compared to the mice that ate standard food. The tumor growth was slowest when the mice were fed both mung bean and shiitake mushroom.

  6. Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup been conducted?

    Clinical trials using Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup to treat cancer have been done with small numbers of patients. These patients received other types of treatment, either before or during treatment with Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup, and different vegetable mixtures were used in the different studies.

    The results of these trials were compared with published information on similar patients who did not receive Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup. Most patients receiving the vegetable mixtures lived longer, were better able to carry out their daily activities, and either gained weight or did not lose weight. In some patients who ate Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup, tumor growth slowed or the tumor completely went away. Because patients in these trials received other treatments, it is not known if their responses were caused by Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup, the other treatments, or both. None of the trials were randomized or controlled. Randomized clinical trials give the highest level of evidence. In randomized trials, volunteers are put randomly (by chance) into one of 2 or more groups that compare different treatments. In a controlled trial, one group (called the control group) does not receive the new treatment being studied. The control group is then compared to the groups that receive the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works. Randomized controlled trials, enrolling larger numbers of people, are needed to confirm the results of studies done so far on Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup.

    One randomized clinical trial (NCT00246727) of patients with stage IIIB or stage IV non-small cell lung cancer is now being conducted. The trial is comparing the survival of patients receiving Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup with patients receiving a placebo (inactive substance). Both groups are receiving treatment with supportive care, such as radiation therapy, surgery, or palliative care.

  7. Have any side effects or risks been reported from Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup?

    No harmful side effects or risks have been reported in the use of Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup. Some patients felt full or bloated after eating the dry form, but patients who ate the frozen mixture did not report this.

  8. Is Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a cancer treatment in the United States?

    The FDA has not approved any form of Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup for the treatment of cancer or any other medical condition. Well-designed clinical trials that test identical mixtures of vegetables and herbs are needed to prove whether Selected Vegetables/Sun’s Soup is useful in treating cancer.

  • Updated: January 10, 2013