The reason why cancer easily spreads to the lung; Fucoidan may help to prevent it.

Lung cancer stat

The cancer with the most deaths among the five major cancers is lung cancer. More than one in five deaths from cancer is from lung cancer. The 5-year relative survival rate of lung cancer is 28.2%, which is lower than other cancers. 

The reason for the low survival rate of lung cancer is that lung cancer is mainly found very late in untreatable conditions. Lung cancer not only has no initial symptoms, but also shows no symptoms other than coughing and phlegm after some progression. It is very difficult to diagnose lung cancer, because most patients consider it a cold.

Metastatic lung cancer means that cancer occurred in other organs and spread to the lungs, resulting in lung cancer. This differs from primary lung cancer, where cancer begins in the lungs. According to the National Cancer Center, more than 40% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer at the stage of metastasis (remote metastasis) not only to the lung itself, but also to other organs far from the lung.

What is the mechanism by which cancer spreads to the lungs?[1]


While normal cells can be thought of as being “sticky,” since they have adhesion molecules that keep them in together in place, cancer cells are different. They do not make these adhesion molecules, allowing them to break free and travel as they please.

In particular, the lung is considered the most common metastatic site for all types of cancer. This is because there are many blood vessels and high concentrations of oxygen, making it easy for cancer cells to spread.

When traveling, cancer cells may extend directly to the lungs, such as cancers that begin in the esophagus or chest wall. But most cancer cells travel indirectly, through three possible ways:

  • Bloodstream (Hematogenous spread): Cancer cells may leak into small blood vessels near the tumors and then carried to the lungs via the pulmonary arteries.
  • Lymphatics: Tumor cells may leak into the small lymphatic vessels and travel along the lymph pathways (including lymph nodes).
  • Pleural spread and airway spread: The pleura refers to the membranes surrounding the lung. This type of spread is often limited to lung tumors and is much less common.

Fucoidan, for the prevention of lung metastasis [2]

There have been numerous studies on how to prevent cancer from spreading to the lungs.  Along with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, there are many research data on natural therapy that utilizes health ingredients. Among the various health ingredients, there is a unique ingredient called Fucoidan that supports to induce cancer apoptosis and helps prevent cancer metastasis.

Recently, fucoidan is in the spotlight as a food that prevents metastatic lung cancer. Fucoidan is a type of dietary fiber and sulfated polysaccharide that is unique in algae such as Bladderwrack, Mekabu, Mozuku. It has been published that Fucoidan has anti-cancer properties targeting some signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms in malignant cells, which are effective in preventing lung metastasis.

How Fucoidan Prevents Lung Cancer Metastasis.


#1. Fucoidan suppresses lung cancer cell (A549) proliferation [3]

In France, Dr. Dimitri Moreau and other researchers treated cellosaurus cell line (NSCLC-N6) with an extract from the Atlantic coast and found that tumor cells were significantly inhibited. The researchers found that the treatment of A549 cells, the major cells that cause lung cancer, showed significant inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and low cytotoxicity to normal tissue cells by fucoidan. In addition to the experiments led by Dr. Dimitri, many experiments have shown that fucoidan lowers cytotoxicity

#2. The effect of inhibiting lung-activated protein in Fucoidan [4]

In addition to its strong anti-proliferative activity, it was also found that fucoidan could reduce the level of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase(PI3K Phosphatidylinositol-3-Kinase) inhibitors and protein kinase B (Akt: protein kinase B) inhibitors.

As a result, consumption of fucoidan reduces cell differentiation, slows growth and as well blocks the signals needed for cancer cells to grow.

*p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase: It causes cell differentiation in response to various stresses.

*Phosphatidylinositol-3-Kinase (PI3K) inhibitors and protein kinase B (AKT) inhibitors: It control the differentiation, proliferation, growth, apoptosis, and metabolism of cells in the body, as well as being closely related to cancer.

#3. Improved anti-cancer effects by mixing Cisplatin (chemotherapy drug) and Fucoidan [4]

A clinical trial using anti-cancer drugs Cisplatin* and Fucoidan was conducted at the Biotechnology Medical Laboratory at Taiwan’s National University of Yangming to find out how to prolong the life of lung cancer patients. Clinical results shows that the combination of cisplatin and Fucoidan inhibits genetic tumor growth in lung cancer patients. It was also reported that taking cisplatin with Fucoidan prolongs the life of lung cancer patients.

The research institute investigated whether the Fucoidan combined with Cisplatin could overcome lung cancer. This novel combination synergistically suppressed lung tumorigenesis in lung cancer cells and LLC1-bearing mice. Moreover, the combination of fucoidan and cisplatin treatment enhanced cytotoxicity, inhibited cell viability and induced apoptosis in human lung cancer cells.

Specifically, cell proliferation achieved in the course of combined treatment with Fucoidan and Cisplatin in the lung cancer cells resulted in the elevation of Caspase-3 and PARP *, which improved cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity partially. Therefore, the current findings suggest that the combination of fucoidan and cisplatin is a potential therapeutic agent for preventing lung tumorigenesis

* Cisplatin: Cisplatin acts as an anticancer agent by inhibiting the reproductive ability of cancer cells by changing the sequence of DNA. That means that cancer cells do not proliferate because cisplatin inhibits cell division, thus, preventing cancer from progressing any further. In some cases, cisplatin not only prevents cancer cells from proliferating, but also reduces the size of cancer cells that already exist.

* PARP (*Multi-sugar polymerase): enzymes involved in many of the cell’s functions, including recovery of DNA damage. PARP-1 inhibitors are commonly used in cancer treatment.

Fucoidan that may help to prevent lung metastasis, how should I take it?

Fucoidan, which support to prevent metastatic lung cancer, can only extracted from brown seaweed. It is difficult to eat enough amount when eaten as a food. It is also recommended to look for fucoidan extracted from brown algae grown in the clean sea because the quality of Fucoidan depends on the cultivation environment or what clean areas it grows in.

Although in theory the daily intake can be fulfilled by consuming a huge amount of Mekabu, Mokuzu, Bladderwrack, etc., but a realistic way will be to intake supplement that is formulated with Fucoidan extracted from brown seaweed.


 [1] How Metastatic Cancer to the Lungs Differs From Primary Lung Cancer
Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis

[2] Brown Seaweed Fucoidan in Cancer: Implications in Metastasis and Drug Resistance
María Elena Reyes, Ismael Riquelme, Tomás Salvo et al,
PMCID: PMC7281670 DOI: 10.3390/md18050232

[3] An extract from the brown alga Bifurcaria bifurcata induces irreversible arrest of cell proliferation in a non-small-cell bronchopulmonary carcinoma line
Dimitri Moreau,  Hélène Thomas-Guyon,  Catherine Jacquot et al.
Published: 07 April 2006

[4] Fucoidan upregulates TLR4/CHOP-mediated caspase-3 and PARP activation to enhance cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity in human lung cancer cells
Hsien-Yeh Hsu, Tung-Yi Lin, Chun-Hao Hu
PMID: 29746926, DOI: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.05.006

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