Recent studies suggest green tea may kill cancer cells. With this information, its hoped the tea can slow and even destroy the growth of cancer. If found to be fully effective, this could lower cancer mortality rates.

Green tea is known for the many natural health benefits it produces when consumed regularly. Another natural benefit can now be added to the list: aiding in the treatment of cancer. Recent studies concluded green tea may kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. This amazing breakthrough could produce drastic and positive results for many cancer patients. Not only does green tea appear to fight cancer, but it may prevent cancer as well.

Recently, a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that the phytochemicals found in green tea kill cancerous cells without producing the dangerous side effects radiation and chemotherapy produce. The tea slows the growth of the cancer and appears to even destroy the cancerous cells. The green tea components destroy the cancerous cells by inhibiting the enzyme required for cancer growth, not only decreasing the growth but killing the cells in the process. Even while destroying the cancerous cells, the healthy cells remain unharmed. The green tea essentially starves the cancerous cells, eliminating the survival of the cancer. The study was prompted by the 1970s epidemiological study, which found regions of the world where green tea was consumed regularly had far fewer cancer cases than other regions of the world.

During the study, laboratory cell cultures were used; they contained the green tea components and leukemia cells. The green tea killed the leukemia cells by hindering the communication signals the cancer cells needed to survive. With these findings, patients with B-cell leukemia (CLL) were used to see if the same results were produced. During the study, the leukemia cells died in 8 out of the 10 patient samples used. This is an amazing discovery because there currently isn’t a cure for this form of leukemia, even with chemotherapy. This breakthrough could result in a slower progression of the cancer, and possibly even a lower mortality rate.

The study was led by Neil E. Kay, M.D., who states, “Were continuing to look for therapeutic agents that are nontoxic to the patient but kill cancer cells, and this finding with EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) is an excellent start. Understanding this mechanism and getting these positive early results gives us a lot to work with in terms of offering patients with this disease more effective, easily tolerated therapies earlier.”

This new, nontoxic treatment offers a new ray of hope for patients with this form of leukemia. Patients with CLL often undergo a treatment that involves watching and waiting. Some patients live with the cancer for decades and never require treatment. However, for others the cancer can spread rapidly, and death can occur in only months. Even with chemotherapy, patients with CLL are never rid of the cancer and chemotherapy isn’t a safe treatment option for everyone, especially the elderly. This amazing breakthrough opens a new door of possibilities for patients with CLL.

Tait D. Shanafelt, M.D, a Mayo Clinic researcher, is encouraged by the results of the study, stating “Our research goal is to identify new treatments for CLL that have a favorable side effect profile and can be used in patients with early stage disease to prevent progression. I think were getting there.”

With the knowledge that green tea may kill cancer cells, there’s now the issue of marketing the green tea as cancer treatment option should it be found to be an effective treatment. It’s believed pharmaceutical companies will try to recreate the components found in the tea to market a new drug. Although this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, should the pharmaceutical companies try to take over the treatment option, it’s likely to be more difficult for patients to acquire. In reality, all cancer patients would need to do is pick up a cup of the tea regularly. Green tea has been a natural part of Western medicine for decades due to the health benefits it produces. Waiting on the marketing of the components in the tea could halt how quickly the treatment option is released to the general public.

Until there’s conclusive proof green tea actually kills cancer, there’s no harm in drinking the tea right now. Green tea produces a wide range of benefits, including cancer prevention. Drinking the tea won’t harm you, but will give your body a health boost in other ways even if it isn’t fighting the cancer. In the meantime, further studies are being conducted to try to develop an actual cancer drug from the tea extract.

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