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Green tea extract could be used in leukaemia fight

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Research has found green tea extracts could be potentially lifesaving for leukaemia patients.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients given high doses of green tea extract saw a significant improvement in their condition. This included a 50% reduction in the size of swollen lymph glands.

Scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, studied 33 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), each receiving eight different doses of a commercially produced green tea extract known as Polyphenon E.

In one third of the participants the lymph count, a measurement of numbers of white blood cells, was lowered, indicating cancer regression.

Tests have shown that the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the supplement’s primary active ingredient, can combat the disease in laboratory tests, but human studies have produced conflicting results.

Dr Tait Shanafelt, who led the US team conducting the latest trial, said: ‘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 chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.’

It is hoped the findings can be used to increase the survival chances of leukaemia patients with an aggressive form of the disease.

Journal of Clinical Oncology, doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.21.1284

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