Tea extracts may kill cancer cells directly

Once considered "quackery," alternative therapies are slowly seeping into mainstream medicine. The proof is in the scientific pudding, or, in this case, the tea.

First you pour the water, then you add papaya leaves, then you heat it up, and then you drink it down. If only killing cancer was as simple as sipping tea.

Linda Michael, an ovarian cancer patient, said, "I really believe there's something to it, whether or not it's going to save my life, I don't know. Come and see me in five years."

Linda is battling aggressive ovarian cancer which kills 15 thousand women per year. Monthly chemo visits are just too much.

"I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't get off the couch," said Linda.

So, she is adding a new treatment to the mix: tea made from papaya leaves.

"I'm doin' a whole lot better than my oncologist thought I was going to do," said Linda

University of Florida physician Nam Dang has the science to back up Linda's new brew.

Dr. Nam Dang said, "We have found that there are components in tea extracts that actually kill cancer cells directly."

Dr. Nam Dang found exposure to papaya leaf extract slowed tumor growth in ten types of cancer cells. It also boosts the immune system, where traditional chemo treatments make it weaker.

"That's the excitement behind our finding - that we might have a drug that can do several things in fighting cancer," said Dr. Nam Dang.

In other studies mixing natural and standard medicine, University of Pennsylvania researchers found flax seed reduces heart disease risk, and grape seed extract helps treat Alzheimer's, according to Mount Sinai Medical Center staff.

"Western medicine saved my life, I can't say anything bad about it, but chemo is tough stuff," said Linda.

With science on her side, Linda's now cooking-up her own combo of old-and-new treatments.

If Dr. Nam Dang's trial results are the same in both humans and animals, he will try to develop an actual cancer drug from the extract.

REPORT #1722

YOU CAN'T SPELL HISTORY WITHOUT "TEA": Tea consumption dates back 5,000 years to China and India where it was a popular beverage as well as a traditional healing tonic. Today, researchers from the National Cancer Institute, American Institute for Cancer Research, and many other top research facilities are studying the science behind tea, hoping to understand the healing properties that ancient civilizations relied on. Whether you drink tea or use it in cooking, research shows that tea can offer many health benefits, including a reduced risk for a variety of cancers.

A FEW CUPS A DAY KEEPS CANCER AWAY: According to a recent study recognized by the American Institute for Cancer Research, a substance in green tea has been found to halt a specific stage in the cancer process more effectively than current cancer drugs. In studies of liver, skin, and stomach cancer, green and black teas were shown to decrease the size of tumors and either slow or completely prevent breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Other studies show similar protective effects of green tea in tissues of the lung, esophagus, and pancreas. Black, oolong, and green tea have all been associated with ovarian cancer prevention. A few studies also suggest that white tea is even better than green tea at preventing damage to cells that could lead to cancer. While most tea research has focused on cancer prevention, researchers have recently begun to explore trends in green tea consumption among cancer survivors. Preliminary results suggest that women who drink 3 or more cups of green tea daily have a lower recurrence rate of early (Stage I) breast cancer. Another study showed that women with ovarian cancer who drank at least 1 cup of green tea daily were more than twice as likely to survive as non-tea drinkers.

CATECHINS: These plant chemicals have potent antioxidant activity to help reduce the risk of cancer by fixing cell damage. Among other roles, catechins have been shown to inhibit growth of tumor cells and keep them from spreading to other parts of the body. Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet. Possibly because it is less processed, green tea contains 3 times the catechins than black tea, and catechin levels in white tea are even higher. Supplement makers have responded to the positive results of tea research with a multitude of tea extracts. Perhaps the most popular, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is popping up in a variety of nutritional supplements, from multivitamins to herbal concoctions. Though EGCG may have some benefit, it should be used in moderation. Very high amounts of green tea components have been shown to interact with drugs that affect blood clotting such as aspirin, and also may cause liver damage.

* For More Information, Contact:

University of Florida
Division of Hematology - Oncology
PO Box 100278
Gainesville, FL 32610-0278
Phone : 352-273-7832

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