Numerous studies have reported the benefits that are obtained from functional foods such as brown seaweeds. Fucoidan is obtained from brown seaweeds and it is characterized for being a sulfated polysaccharide capable of enhancing the immune system and providing additional health benefits due to its biochemical properties.
Some of these properties are: inducing Apoptosis (the removal of affected cells that no longer need to be part of the body), activating a mechanism known as cancer Angiogenesis, and being able to combine all these properties to lower the side effects caused by the most common cancer treatments known to date.
Fucoidan’s Immune Enhancing Benefits
Naturally occurring food compounds such as Fucoidan (a sulfated polysaccharide purified from brown algae), act as an antioxidant and as immune-enhancing agents in the human body. Although Fucoidan can be found in different brown seaweed species, each species provides unique Fucoidan concentrations that promote gut health, the activation of immune cells, such as the dendritic cells (DC), natural killer (NK) cells, and T cells.
Fucoidan obtained from Fucus vesiculosus has been studied for its immune-enhancing benefits, primarily by inducing macrophage activation., , In several studies, Fucoidan extracted from C. okamuranus has been shown to stimulate T-cell, dendritic cell, and NK cell stimulation, which can induce anti-cancer immunity.
Additionally, Fucoidan from C. okamuranus has proven to enhance macrophage phagocytosis, increase Immunoglobin (M, G, and A) production, which are important immune mediators.
Inducing Apoptosis with Fucoidan
Apoptosis is defined as a genetically regulated form of cell death, which has a role in aging and other diseases like cancer. The modulation of apoptosis has an incredible value in cancer treatment because it allows the malignant cells to die and the healthy cells to live and reproduce.
Cancerous tumors develop different methods to evade their elimination from the body by the immune system. Therefore, it is critical to maintain a strong immune system and to provide the body with the proper functional foods and or treatments to prevent the spread of malignant cells throughout the body.
NK cells play key functions in the immune system. A recent article published by Tomori, M., et al.  analyzed the ability of Fucoidan obtained from C. okamuranus to increase the activity of NK cells after ingestion. The study focused on a period of 8 weeks.
Since Fucoidan is a polysaccharide that can induce activation and cytotoxicity on NK cells, they concluded that Fucoidan increased significantly the number of NK cells in both men and women. This is an important observation because NK cells have a key function in anti-tumor immune responses that direct the tumor cells to undergo apoptosis.
Fucoidan and Cancer Angiogenesis
Metastasis happens when cancer spreads from its original site to distant locations in the body. This process is supported by the development of new blood vessels that keep feeding the malignant tumors allowing them to grow and spread, which often affects other organs or tissues.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of death from cancer in men in the U.S. Many factors are taken into consideration for this data, from pollution to infectious diseases, and genetic factors.
The most common treatments for prostate cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy. However, some men opt for natural and alternative methods as well.
One of these natural foods considered for prostate cancer is Fucoidan. It is a safe ingredient that has shown anti-tumor activity by inducing Angiogenesis on prostate cancer in both cell-based assays and mouse models.
It was concluded that Fucoidan inhibited the growth of hepatoma Huh7 cells and HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Therefore, it delivers an anti-cancer effect through the inhibition of the proliferation of HCC cells.
Alleviating the Chemo Side Effects with Fucoidan
The side effects caused by conventional cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are difficult to alleviate. One study has shown that Fucoidan may increase the efficacy of different chemotherapy drugs because of possible synergistic effects with anticancer drugs.
In this study, Masahide, I., et al. reported that Fucoidan was able to reduce the fatigue caused by a period of chemotherapy treatment. They also reported that Fucoidan allowed the patient to tolerate the chemotherapy for longer periods with fewer side effects.
 Thelen T., et al. (2010). The class A scavenger receptor, macrophage receptor with collagenous structure, is the major phagocytic receptor for Clostridium sordellii expressed by human decidual macrophages. J. Immunol. 185:4328–4335.
 Tomori, M., et al. (2021). Effects of Ingesting Fucoidan Derived from Cladosiphon okamuranus Tokida on Human NK Cells: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel-Group, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Department of Natural Products Chemistry, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.
 Elmore, S. (2007). Apoptosis: A review of programmed cell death. Toxicol. Pathol. 35:495–516.
 Yamasaki-Miyamoto Y., Yamasaki M., Tachibana H., Yamada K. (2009). Fucoidan induces apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 on human breast cancer mcf-7 cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57:8677–8682.
 Tomori, M., et al. (2021). Effects of Ingesting Fucoidan Derived from Cladosiphon okamuranus Tokida on Human NK Cells: A Randomized,Double-Blind, Parallel-Group, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Department of Natural Products Chemistry, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.
 Masahadi, I., et al. (2015). Effect of Fucoidan Dietary Supplement on the Chemotherapy Treatment of Patients with Unresectable Advanced Gastric Cancer. Journal of Cancer Therapy, 2015, 6, 1020-1026