Liver cancer and Fucoidan

The liver is the organ that affect the whole body

The liver is the hardest organ in the body and plays a number of roles in regulating physical activity. An adult’s liver weighs nearly 1.3 kg, which plays an important role in the composition and circulation of blood, affecting the whole body.

The liver’s typical role is to produce proteins that make blood clots that stop bleeding when injured, and remove unnecessary substances from the body. It also produces yellowish-green bile, which is needed when digesting or absorbing food and vitamins, and breaks down and stores many nutrients in food that is absorbed by the gut. Finally, it cleanses the blood by breaking down and removing drugs and medicines, drugs and toxins such as alcohol and nicotine.

The number of liver cancer patients increases

Liver cancer is on the rise recently. As a result of statistics from National Statistical Office, liver cancer is the third among the top 10 cancers that occur every year. The liver cancer mortality rate is so high that it ranks second among cancer mortality rates.

Why is liver cancer difficult to treat?[2]

Since there are no symptoms in the early stages of liver cancer, the liver cancer is often found at the last stage rather than in the early or middle stage, so it is also called a “Silent Cancer”. The main reason for late detection of liver cancer is that the number of nerve cells is so small that no special abnormality is felt until the liver function is greatly reduced.

When liver cancer grows, there is pain in the upper right corner, it can extend to the back and shoulders, the stomach swells, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, or feeling full even when you have not eaten. You may also feel weak or very tired, experience heartburn and vomiting, and have an unexpected fever.

However, even if these symptoms appear, they disappear within a few days, which make people misunderstand the symptoms and often do not go to the hospital, thinking that it is routine fatigue. Also, even if the symptoms appear, it is more often confused with other diseases.

Cancer management by Diet

Why diet is important

Diet is among the many ways to manage and treat cancer. Diet can be practiced steadily through dietary habits and numbers of patients who look for benefit from diet are increasing. Sufficient nutrition during cancer treatment allows patients to actively participate in treatment and to better overcome the side effects of treatment. And finally, good nutrients reduce the risk of infection.

Several natural supplements are being mentioned in supporting liver cancer. Among them, Fucoidan is emerging as one of ingredients in supporting immune system to fight against liver cancer.


Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide extracted from brown seaweeds such as Mekabu, Mozuku, Bladderwrack.   Since 1990’s more than 2,000 research articles have been reported regarding many beneficial effects on the body.

Fucoidan, which can be extracted from the slippery surface of brown seaweed, is also rich in active substances such as polysaccharides, terpenoids, proteins, polyphenols and sterols that are good for the body.

Fucoidan is well known for not only preventing cancer cells from metastasis, but also for preventing the growth of cancer cells by inducing cancer apoptosis. It is also known to support activating the immune response.

The mechanism of preventing cancer metastasis by Fucoidan’s inhibiting cancer angiogenesis[4]

As a result of a study at Seoul National University in Korea, Fucoidan has shown a mechanism to prevent liver cancer metastasis. The group treated with fucoidan showed much lower liver cancer metastasis than the other control groups. In addition, the sum of the maximum diameters (size of cancer cells) of each nodule in the group treated with fucoidan was much lower than that of the control group.

This is the result of fucoidan’s inhibiting the tumor angiogenesis process. When cancer cells grow to a certain size or more, they begin to connect new blood vessels and receive nutrients and oxygen through them. Fucoidan has the effect of inhibiting the development and growth of tumors through a mechanism that prevents the formation of new blood vessels in cancer cells.

Fucoidan’s influence on cell cycle[2]

The anticancer effect of fucoidan has been demonstrated in the human liver cancer cell, HepG2 line at the Medical Department of University of California, San Francisco. In this study, the team analyzed cell proliferation, metastasis, formation, cell cycle progression, and genetic damage with fucoidan. The Hoechst staining test (Hoechst staining: a test that fluoresces DNA within 24 hours) reports the change in the morphology of the cells, and fucoidan is determined by the JC-1 staining test (JC-1 staining method).

It was confirmed that fucoidan causes a genetic loss of the cancer cell cycle. When cancer cells first develop, they do not remain as they are, but differentiate and mature. At this time, cyclin protein, PTK enzyme, and CDK enzyme are required in the process of differentiation. Fucoidan has been shown to mainly inhibit cell formation and cycle progression by blocking the cell cycle with this mitochondrial membrane potential. As a result of the study, fucoidan significantly reduced the spread of HepG2 cancer cells, and the ability to reduce hepatocellular carcinoma cells was enormous.

* Mitochondria: These are cellular organelles present in eukaryotic cells with functions involved in energy metabolism and regulation of cell death. In particular, it is mainly present in major body organs and muscle cells such as the liver, heart, and brain that require energy. One of the main functions of mitochondria is oxidative phosphorylation via an electron transport system, and through the above process, energy derived from metabolism of fuel substances such as glucose or fatty acids is converted into ATP (chemical energy that drives life), which is a variety of energy.

-Used to promote required biosynthesis and other metabolic activities. The mitochondria are made up of the inner and outer membranes. The membrane part is composed of a double membrane of the outer membrane and the inner membrane, and a part of the inner membrane protrudes inward and is folded into several layers.

*Mitochondrial Membrane Potential: Mitochondrial Membrane Potential changes the inner and outer membranes, interfering with the process of energy conversion to ATP. In other words, mitochondria are unable to release energy and thus cannot help cancer cells.

Fucoidan helps to trigger cancer cell death (Cancer Apoptosis)

The biggest difference between fucoidan and other nutritional supplements is that fucoidan functions to trigger cell death which is called Apoptosis.  Apoptosis is the death of cells due to cell morphology and internal biochemical changes. Fucoidan also exhibited anti-tumor activity by inhibiting cell circulation and inducing apoptosis of cancer cells.

As a result of treatment of human hepatitis cell SMMC-7721 with fucoidan, it showed cancer cell growth inhibition and cancer cell death. In addition, numerous activities derived by Fucoidan were closely related to apoptosis. Fluorescence microscopy revealed that fucoidan was helpful in the formation of apoptosis in HepG2 cancer cells at the nuclear material and mitochondrial membrane potential.

Fucoidan inhibits the growth of liver cancer cells

A study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Medicine in the United States confirmed the effects of fucoidan on cancer cell growth. Group A, a mouse transplanted with liver cancer cells, mainly fed fucoidan above the specified concentration, and the other group (B) fed normal diet.

After 4 weeks, the liver tumor in group A, which was mainly fed fucoidan, showed an unchanged or slightly enlarged appearance, and in the other group, liver cancer cells were more than doubled. This suggests that taking fucoidan inhibits or reduces the growth of liver cancer cells.

How to take Fucoidan?

Fucoidan, which is good for cancer, is effective only when taking a certain amount. However, eating Bladderwrack, Mekabu, and Mozuku as food in order to consume enough amount of fucoidan is not a good idea as you have to eat lots of brown seaweed. For example, only 1-10 g of fucoidan can be extracted from Mekabu 1,000g.  

Many experts recommend taking fucoidan supplement which has high purity of fucoidan extracts from brown seaweeds, grown in the clean ocean, and taking a certain enough amount daily and consistently.


[1] The anti-cancer effects of fucoidan: a review of both in vivo and in vitro investigations
Yuan Lin, Xingsi Qi

[2] Anticancer effect of fucoidan on cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, genetic damage and apoptotic cell death in HepG2 cancer cells
ma, K.Arunkumar et al,

[3]The anti-cancer effects of fucoidan: a review of both in vivo and in vitro investigations

[4]Fucoidan protects hepatocytes from apoptosis and inhibits invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma by up-regulating p42/44 MAPK-dependent NDRG-1/CAP43,
, Jung-HwanYoon et al,

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