Alternative Therapies for Cancer: Green Tea

Green Tea Damages Cancer Cells
Recently I posted some general information about alternate therapies and cancer treatments.  The alternate therapies center around the herbs green tea, curcumin and astragalus.  This post is to provide you with some greater detail on the effects of green tea on cancers.

Green Tea and green tea extract is very promising in cancer research. It has shown anti cancer effects for almost all of the cancers that have been studied using green tea as an anti cancer agent. The active component is epigallocatechin 3-gallate, usually referred to as ECGC. It interferes with the disease process of cancer in quite a few different ways.

ECGC stops the cancer from being ‘healthy’
and prevents it from reproducing its cells by interrupting proteasome degradation activity.I’m guessing your eyes are probably glazing over, but this stuff is fascinating when you really look at it. Proteasomes are large proteins inside of our cells that clean up unneeded or damaged proteins within the cell. When the degradation system is operating properly the cell can go through its normal cycle of replicating and dividing according to its blueprint and therefore remained undamaged.  OK so we WANT cancer cells to be damaged, so that they cannot replicate and divide.  And ECGC does that.

On the flip side of this – and this is amazing, ECGC does exactly the opposite with healthy cells. How cool is that? When our healthy cells become damaged and more likely to mutate and form cancerous cells, ECGC protects them and allows them to repair themselves and replicate properly. I don’t know about you, but this blows me away. Bring on the ECGC. How much do I need? One liter of green tea per day for four weeks was able to reduce the damage of carcinogenic agents on cells by 30%.

Green tea has been studied a lot in regard to breast cancer.
Not surprisingly there is quite a bit of study from Japan regarding green tea. It’s been found that green tea helps to prevent metastases to the lymph nodes from stage 1 or 2 breast cancers in premenopausal Japanese. And in post menopausal women who drank green tea breast cancers were less aggressive. If they drank 5 cups or more of green tea, and stage 1 or 2 breast cancer, there was less recurrence and more women survived disease free.

Just one cup per day will help to stop you getting ovarian cancer
and help you survive if you do get it.  Just one cup per day – even I can do that (coffee addict that I am).  ECGC causes ovarian cancer cell death by increasing the levels of hydrogen peroxide in the cells.  And get this, EGCG increases the potency of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin in ovarian cancer cells by 3 to 6 times!! So it works to kill them and to weaken them making them more susceptible to the chemo drug. Like all chemo drugs cisplatin has some risks and nasty side effects so anything you can do to help it do its job and then get rid of it from your system is a good thing.

Green tea has a synergistic reaction with several chemotherapeutic drugs
The functions that a cell forms are pretty amazing, they are complex and are involved in all kinds of functions of regeneration. HER is the acronym for a cell protein that is involved in the survival and regeneration of the cell, right at the gene level – this protein can be over expressed in cancer cells and cause the rapid uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.  Tamoxafin inhibits the expression of HER to prevent out of control growth.

Now green tea does two things here.  It increases the effects of Tamoxafin AND as HER becomes resistant to Tamoxafin, green tea lessens the resistance.  At this point I am in love with green tea.  But there are more reasons to love it too.  Tamoxafin can damage the liver and green tea helps to reduce that damage.  Tamoxafin also causes cancer cells to die by increasing the rate of cancer cell death.  All cells die – the technical name is apotosis and green tea extract increases Tamaoxafins effects.

Trastuzamab (also called Herceptin) is a drug used to slow down the growth of cancer cells.  Green tea has a synergistic effect with this drug, as it does with Tamoxafin.  Trastuzamab can cause heart problems.  But what are you going to do if you’ve got a rampant breast cancer?  Green tea lessens the risk of damage to the heart when you have to take anti cancer drugs such as trastuzamab or anthrocylines.

Breast Cancer is very often fuelled by estrogen.  For the body to synthesize estrogen, it requires an enzyme called aromatase.  Green tea is able to inhibit the development of armatase.

Now Taxol is a very toxic chemo drug.  If you have to take it, then you want it to get rid of the cancer.  Green tea increases sensitivity of cancer cells to taxol.  It greatly reduces the number of white cells that a person has so you do run the risk of serious infection.   In a later post I’ll be talking about astragalus – a herb which has the ability to increase white blood cells.

Green Tea can help you out if you have HPV.
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cancerous lesions on the cervix. This is scary because HPV is very wide spread. But the encouraging news is that green tea extract was used experimentally in a research projects to see if it helps – and it does. It has been tested topically, orally and a combination of them both. It was tested on women with various stages of cervical lesions and all modes of treatment showed good response but the combination of oral and topical showed the best response. The mechanisms seem to be inhibiting the ability of the cancer cell to reproduce itself properly, to inhibit actual cancer cell growth and to cause it to die.

Prostate Cancer has shown response to green tea too.
Men who took a 4 capsules of Polyphenon E per day (a green tea supplement used in the testing) showed a significant reductions in cancer indicators in the blood. The amount of Polyphenon E is equal to 12 cups of green tea. The markers or indicators that were reduced were PSA – increased levels of this may indicate local or metastasized cancer, VEGF – which is normal in the body but in excessive amounts brings blood supply to cancers allowing them to metastasize, and HGF which becomes increasingly elevated as cancer develops.

Precancerous oral lesions show good response to green tea, as does stomach, colon and lung cancer.  There is also interest in green tea for pancreatic cancer.
The recommended dose is provided in an earlier post.  If you have multiple myeloma and take Velcade  (Bortezomib) then DON’T take green tea or anything else with loads of polyphenols because they block the activity of this drug.  Next post I’ll be looking at curcumin.

Shankar S et al. EGCG inhibits growth, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis of pancreatic cancer. Front Biosci 2008;13:440-52.cervical lesions. Eur J Cancer Preve 2003;12(5): 383-390.
Larsson S, Wolk A. Tea consumption and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based cohort. Arch Intern Med 2005;165(22): 2683-2686
Ahn W, Yoo J, Huh S, et al. Protective effects of green tea extracts (polyphenon E and EGCG) on human cervical lesions. Eur J Cancer Preve 2003;12(5): 383-390
Zhang M, Lee A, Binns C, Xie X. Green tea consumption enhances survival of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer 2004;112(3): 465-469.

Chan, Soprano et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate delivers hydrogen peroxide to induce death of ovarian cancer cells and enhances their cisplatin susceptibility. J Cell Physiol 2006 May;207(2):389-396.
Nakachi K, Suemasu K, Suga K, et al. Influence of drinking green tea on breast cancer malignancy among Japanese patients. Japan J Cancer Res 1998;89:254-261
McLarty J et al. aCancer Prev Res 2009:2(7): 673-82

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2 Responses to “Alternative Therapies for Cancer: Green Tea”

  1. [...] therapies and curcumin is right up there with green tea for its therapeutic benefits. See that post here Curcumin is the active ingredient in Tumeric.  It is an essential addition to curries and provides [...]

  2. [...] you know it – drinking green tea helps prevent the effects of the carcinogens from effecting you. Green tea is cropping up everywhere for its health benefits.  The polyphenols in green tea help the body to [...]

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