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Originally published August 25 2009

Green Tea Nutrients Prevent Leukemia

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) One of the potent antioxidants found in green tea may slow and possibly even reverse the progress of leukemia.

Scientists have been aware since 1970s that green tea can help fight cancer, as demonstrated by lower cancer rates in countries with high consumption of the beverage. In 2004, a study showed that the naturally occurring tea chemical epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) could actually kill leukemia cells.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers from the Mayo Clinic found a significant improvement in the symptoms of cancer patients treated with EGCG extract.

Researcher Tait D. Shanafelt and colleagues became interested in carrying out a clinical trial when they noticed that chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients self-medicating with tea polyphenols actually began showing signs of improvement. They designed a study in which 33 CLL patients were treated with between 400 and 2,000 milligrams of EGCG extract twice per day.

"We found not only that patients tolerated the green tea extract at very high doses, but that many of them saw regression to some degree of their CLL," Shanafelt said.

Treatment with EGCG led to noticeable decreases in two symptoms of CLL -- increased white blood cell (lymphocyte) count and enlarged lymph nodes. Lymphocyte levels decreased by 20 percent or more in 15 of 33 patients, an improvement that lasted for two months in 11 of them. Of 12 patients who began the study with swollen lymph nodes, 11 experienced a 50 percent or greater decrease in swelling.

Few side effects were observed from the treatment.

CLL is currently incurable, and is aggressive and fatal in 50 percent of patients. There is also currently no therapy capable of slowing or halting the progression of the disease.

The researchers expressed hope that EGCG could be used to stabilize early-stage CLL, increasing survival time at worst and improving the effectiveness of other treatments at best.

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