Green Tea and Leukaemia (CLL)
Treating the Untreatable

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) has no known cure, but two green tea and leukaemia studies offered a glimpse of what might be the future.

Tea Extract Study

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a blood and bone marrow cancer which affects white blood cells. It is the commonest type of leukaemia and mainly affects people over 60.

It is called chronic leukaemia because it progresses more slowly than acute leukaemia with some patients living for decades with the disease.

As there is no known cure, doctors have traditionally not intervened in the early stages of the disease. They see how it develops before moving on to traditional forms of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.

But the researchers in the Mayo Clinic, in the United States, decided to try green tea after a test tube study in 2004 showed it killed leukaemia cells.

Four CLL patients being treated at the clinic took green tea extract tablets containing EGCG, an antioxidant thought to fight cancer cells. Researchers found that 3 out 4 patients show significant improvements after a few months.

"It is exciting that research is now demonstrating green tea may provide new hope for CLL patients," said scientist Tait Shanafelt.

This study was published in the Leukaemia Research Journal in 2005.

Tea Beverage Study

A 2007 study conducted by Australian and Chinese researchers showed that heavy green tea drinkers had lower risk of developing leukaemia.

In the case-control study, M. Zhang from the University of Western Australia and colleagues from Zhejiang University in China followed 107 adults with leukaemia and 110 orthopedic controls in China.

The study was published in the December 18, 2007 issue of British Journal of Cancer.

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