Green tea compound could help fight cancer

We recently reported that drinking coffee may help prevent heart failure and even reduce the chances of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.

Interestingly, coffee isn’t the only caffeinated beverage with medicinal properties. Indeed, researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland recently discovered that a compound found in green tea could help fight cancer. 

The extract, known as epigallocatechin gallate, apparently has preventative anti-cancer properties – but failed to reach tumors when delivered by conventional intravenous administration.

However, in initial laboratory tests at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow, researchers used an approach which allowed the treatment to be delivered specifically to the tumors after intravenous administration. 

Nearly two-thirds of the tumors either shrank or disappeared within one month, with the treatment displaying absolutely no side effects to normal tissues.

According to Dr. Christine Dufès, the above-mentioned tests are thought to be the first time that this type of treatment has made cancerous tumors shrink or vanish.

“In the tests, on two different types of skin cancer, 40% of both types of tumor vanished, while 30% of one and 20% of another shrank. A further 10% of one of the types were stabilized,” she explained.

“[We] encapsulated the green tea extract in vesicles that also carried transferrin, a plasma protein which transports iron through the blood. Receptors for transferrin are found in large amounts in many cancers.”

Dufès termed the results “encouraging,” as they could help pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments.

“When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether. In contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumors continued to grow.

“This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries,” she added.