Tea ranks second only to water as a beverage worldwide and has been considered to have health-promoting properties since ancient times. In many Asian cultures, green tea is still a dietary staple and may also be found in gum, breads, candy, ice cream, and desserts. Here in the US, bottled, flavored green tea “drinks” and instant green teas are increasingly common. It turns out, however, that these commercial preparations have very low levels of green tea polyphenols, the components that are thought to account for most of the tea’s health-related impact.
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Many human population studies have linked higher tea consumption with a lower incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. In terms of cancer prevention and treatment, we know from numerous laboratory studies that green tea can selectively kill cancer cells (leaving normal, healthy cells untouched).
For survivors of most types of cancer, finding safe, practical, and effective ways to stave off recurrences or relapses is of utmost importance. In a systematic review published in the June 2005 issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies, there was a statistically significant 46 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer recurrences for women who consumed the most green tea after being diagnosed with either stage I and II breast cancer. Of course, if that had been a drug, physicians would be prescribing it for every single breast cancer survivor!
More recently, epidemiologists from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a systematic search of five databases and performed a meta-analysis of studies of breast cancer risk and recurrence, encompassing 5,617 cases of breast cancer. Increased green tea consumption (more than three cups a day) was associated with a 27% reduction in the risk of breast cancer recurrence. On the other hand, the association between green tea intake and breast cancer incidence was unclear based on the published research. These findings were published in the January 2010 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
If green tea is indeed safe and shows such cancer-curbing potential, then its use deserves serious consideration. Other studies have shown that green tea enhances the effectiveness of Tamoxifen by reducing the woman’s resistance to the drug over time. Given these types of findings, and given its wide margin of safety, I believe green tea should be an automatic addition to every woman’s diet after a breast cancer remission. The same probably holds true for many other cancers.
Supplementing as a Practical Solution
The most potent way to get green tea into your body is in the form of a pure green tea supplement. This ensures that the body will receive a fairly high dose of the tea’s most active ingredients, the catechins, of which epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is considered to be most key. EGCG has been extensively studied for its ability to knock out cancer cells and limit the invasion and metastasis of cancer as well.
Why not just drink green tea? There are several reasons. First, the process of decaffeinating green tea reduces the EGCG content, and green tea supplements are typically caffeine-free. Second, green tea supplements can provide the EGCG equivalent of 10 to 12 cups of green tea per capsule. Thus, you can get a sizeable dose of EGCG without having to run to the toilet throughout the day.
Many supplements are now standardized to the EGCG content. Try to find a green tea extract that’s standardized to provide not less than 98% polyphenols of which at least 50% should be EGCG. In addition, there are liposomal delivery forms of green tea that can be used to deliver even higher concentrations of the substance to cancer cells.
* This article is excerpted from my upcoming book, Living in the Clear.
Copyright 2017. Mark N. Mead
Khan N, Mukhtar H. Multitargeted therapy of cancer by green tea polyphenols. Cancer Lett. 2008;269(2):269-80.
Sartippour MR, Pietras R, Marquez-Garban DC, Chen HW, Heber D, Henning SM, Sartippour G, Zhang L, Lu M, Weinberg O, Rao JY, Brooks MN. The combination of green tea and tamoxifen is effective against breast cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2006;27(12):2424-33.
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Ogunleye AA, Xue F, Michels KB. Green tea consumption and breast cancer risk or recurrence: a meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010; 119(2):477–484
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© 2017, Mark Nathaniel Mead