A study from the Mayo clinic that a green tea extract induces apoptosis of CLL cells in the test tube. Apoptosis is a special program that is set in motion to kill CLL cells. It is sometimes called programmed cell death. In fact most chemotherapy works by invoking apoptosis. More recent Mayo clinic research found that 3 of the patients in the study who had chronic lymphocytic leukemia improved somewhat whenever they drank green tea. This was either drank by itself or the patients had taken nutritional supplements of green tea extract. In either case, there is a strong link between green tea and CLL that should be taken into consideration.
The Link Between Green Tea And CLL (see CBS News Story Below)
How did green tea help those people who are suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia? Well, green tea and CLL worked together to decrease blood counts, which is something that is very important whenever you are dealing with chronic lymphocytic leukemia because the white blood cells tend to get out of control and thus cause this disease. This was discovered and documented through CT scans and blood counts.
Green tea's reputation in cancer came because it inhibits VEGF mediated signaling that is necessary for a cancer to develop a blood supply. Although this is vital for other forms of solid tumors, it is not needed for CLL. There is epidemiological evidence taken from big surveys of peoples lifestyle habits that green tea drinkers have a lower incidence of some types of cancer including cancer of the esophagus..
Of course, as with any other research that is done, there is always a potential risk for bias. The potential risk here are sources of bias include the fact that this same research group has actually worked together in the past to publish various other studies about green tea. So, some people tend to think that this group is more than likely trying to collect enough evidence that green tea and CLL can work together so that they can actually receive funding for a much larger trial.
The other reason why some people are truly questioning this research is because, while it is uncommon, spontaneous temporary improvements in CLL do occur. As such, those people who doubt the connection between green tea and CLL tend to think that there is not very strong evidence that these 2 things will work together. This is especially true since neither of these research studies were blinded or compared to a placebo control, which makes it only anecdotal information at this point.
However, a lot of good clinical studies do start with anecdotes and case presentations. So, when you ignore these things you will find that there is definitely a good case for some early stage trials here. However, these early trials are very difficult because nutritional supplements are unregulated, which means that the amount of the active ingredient within the supplement can vary greatly. With this information in mind, the link between green tea and CLL definitely warrants further investigation but you should not start taking green tea pills just yet.
(CBS/AP) Research at the Mayo Clinic shows that a component in green tea helps kill cells of the nation's most common form of leukemia. The scientists say the green tea component -- EGCG -- helps kill the cancer cells by cutting off the communication signals they need to survive. The cells used in the study were from patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. It's most often diagnosed in patients in their mid-to-late 60s -- and currently, there is no cure. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society says symptoms usually develop gradually. Patients tire more easily and may feel short of breath when physically active. They may lose weight. They may experience frequent infections of the skin, lungs, kidneys or other sites. The findings, reported in an early electronic article in the journal Blood, show green tea's EGCG killed leukemia cells in eight of ten patient samples tested. Researchers say the green tea results are an excellent start in an effort to find agents that will kill cancer cells and are nontoxic to the patient. The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay notes there is still a little debate as to how many cups of tea a person should drink to achieve benefits. “Somewhere between four and ten cups of green tea a day,” she says, “Seems like a lot but a lot of people in the cultures, which drink high amounts of green tea, which by the way, have low amounts of cancer, sip this throughout the day.” As for the drink’s caffeine content, she notes green tea has about half as the one in coffee. And if you are sensitive to caffeine you can go for decaf. While the research found drinking tea is beneficial, it is not clear what the benefits of other products that contain green tea such as facial cleansers or toothpaste may be. Senay says, “The science probably isn’t there to back up a lot of the claims around green tea.” ©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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