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June 04, 2009

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It is remarkable that they keep finding new health benefits for green tea. This is knowledge the east had culturally for several thousand years before we, in the west, realized the same.

This is an excellent post. I hope you don't mind if I tweet this.
I know it will be appreciated by my followers.

It states in the study that the patients were "previously untreated," suggesting that they had not received chemotherapy, and their cancer staging was early (stage 0-II). This is important to consider and helps us evaluate the significance of the results of this study. Although the study is still in its early stages, it is still very encouraging to see that a safer therapy than the toxic chemotherapy is being developed and given to cancer patients. This is not to say that green tea does not come with its own interactions and side effects; as always, natural medicines does not mean safe.

As others have questioned, I would also like to know if these patients were receiving chemotherapy along with polyphenon E. Also, if the patient population could be further defined (i.e. stage I, stage IV), it would help critically analyze this finding. I wish the researchers specified on the actual cancer cure rate rather than analyzing the white blood cell count, as the ultimate goal of any therapy against cancer is to cure the disease.

The dried leaves of Camellia sinensis are used to make green tea, and it is a perenniel evergreen shrub. Green tea, black tea and oolong tea are all derived from the same plant.

According to the Natural Standard monograph green tea carries grade of level C in general for the cancer, which means it has unclear scientific evidence regarding its use for leukemia. More evidence-based research is needed before any recommendation can be made to drink green tea for leukemia. People who had allergies or hypersensitivities to caffeine or tannin should not drink green tea.

Natural Standard's report on the benefits of green tea for the treatment of leukemia reveals another potential benefit of one of its active moieties, polyphenon E. This preliminary finding warrants further study. The results of subsequent trials will be of interest.

As the article said, green tea contains EGCG/catechins, which are known to be the most potent of all antioxidants. The antioxidants work by blocking the growth and spread of the cancer cells and making the cancer cells self-destruct by starving them. I agree with Matt that this trial is a phase I trial and would be excited to see the results of the phase II trial.

I think it is interesting how the lymph nodes shrunk in leukemia patients treated with the polyphenon E from green tea. Just out of curiosity, I wonder if it would also shrink lymph nodes in patients with certain glandular fevers, such as infectious mononucleosis. After infection with mono, the lymph nodes can remain enlarged for months. I wonder if this effect is specific to this cancer or if it could apply to other scenarios with swollen lymph nodes.

It is great to see that oolyphenon E may have a beneficial role in leukemia therapy, but we should keep in mind that with more green tea comes more caffeine. Excessive caffeine can lead to some serious side effects and with such high amounts, would the patients feel withdrawal symptoms afterward? Since it is now in Phase II, there may not have been any significant events, but I'm still interested in seeing the safety data of this study.

It is important to keep in mind that this is a Phase I trial. Therefore, the purpose is not so much centered on efficacy, but rather the safety of using of Polyphenon E in treatment naïve patients with CLL. Although this trial does give some light into efficacy, the results from the ongoing Phase II trial evaluating 2000mg twice a day will be a more accurate resource to evaluate its efficacy. It will be exciting to see the results of that trial. Given that CLL is not curable, it is important to identify therapies that may delay the need to start more intense chemotherapy, as well as save treatment options for treatment later in the disease course.

Emma,

Thank you for that information, I must have overlooked it when looking at the Natural Standard Web site. Do you think it is better to drink the green tea or take pills? Are there other chemical entities in green tea that could be boosting the effect of polyphenon E? Which brand should I look for if I wanted to get some?

Yes, that is a lot of tea, but if you had leukemia, I think it would well be worth it! I appreciate that Emma figured out the 4 to 6 cups from the NS site - thank you!

Tea certainly has been in the news a great deal regarding potential health benefits. The National Cancer Institute reported that in China, a study of 18,000 men who drank green tea were 50 percent less likely to end up with two types of digestive tract cancers than those who did not.

However, some research has suggested a link between green tea and prostate cancer, and scientists have also noted that there may be side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.

Natural Standard’s green tea monograph states that three cups of green tea per day contains approximately 240-320mg of polyphenon E. So to get the range provided in this study, it looks like you would have to drink somewhere between 4-6 cups of green tea daily. Guess you have to like green tea!

Well, I guess it would make sense that green tea would help with leukemia. Natural standard reported that epidemiological studies in Japan found that patients with cancer who consumed >10 cups of green tea per day extended their survival by 4-6 years, compared to those who drank <3 cups per day. However, I too, would like to know how many tablets of the GTE supplements I would need to take to get 400mg-2g of Polyphenon E.

I agree with DF, it seems improbable that the patients in this study were not receiving chemotherapy along with the green tea supplementation to treat their leukemia. I would also like to know if the results reached statistical significance. According to the Natural Standard professional monograph, there have been many conflicting studies regarding the use of green tea for cancer treatment and prevention. Currently, Natural Standard gives green tea an evidence grade of “C.” Until that grade is bumped up due to more quality evidence coming out, I am going to restrain myself from getting too excited about the results of this study.

How many cups of tea is this dose equivalent to? Would you have to take it in supplemental form?

It seems every month there is a new article on tea being the cure for some disease or other. This time it is green tea and leukemia, earlier it was white tea and weight loss. Maybe we should all just start drinking many cups of tea a day instead of coffee and soda? Also, I wonder if patients were also receiving chemotherapy while taking the Polyphenon E.

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