Green Tea, Leukaemia and Bone Marrow

Green tea has been found to be beneficial to chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and bone marrow diseases such as myeloma and amyloidosis.

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.

Myeloma and Amyloidosis

A 2017 study conducted by the Washington University in St. Louis in the U.S. in collaboration with German researchers found that green tea may benefit patients with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis, often-fatal medical complications associated with bone-marrow disorders.

“These patients are susceptible to a frequently fatal condition called light chain amyloidosis, in which parts of the body’s own antibodies become misshapen and can accumulate in various organs, including the heart and kidneys,” said study author Jan Bieschke from Washington University in St. Louis in the U.S.

“The idea here is twofold: We wanted to understand how light chain amyloidosis works and how the green tea compound affects this specific protein,” Bieschke added.

The team first isolated individual light chains from nine patients with bone marrow disorders that caused multiple myeloma or amyloidosis, then ran lab experiments to determine how the green tea compound affected the light chain protein.

The findings indicate that in bone marrow patients, the EGCG transformed light chain amyloid, preventing the misshapen form from replicating and accumulating dangerously.

“In the presence of green tea, the chains have a different internal structure, as the ECGC pulled the light chain into a different type of aggregate that wasn’t toxic and didn’t form fibril structures,” as happens to organs affected by amyloidosis,” ” Bieschke explained.

The study was published in Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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