Green tea extract may slow leukemia, researchers have suggested

An extract taken from green tea reduces cancer cells in the blood of patients with a form of leukaemia and may slow progression of the disease, a conference will hear.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor – The Telegraph UK

Green tea leaves Photo: ALAMY

Researchers at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in America have found that patients in the early stages of the most common form of leukaemia may respond well to taken supplements of a green tea extract.

The chemical, epigallocatechin galeate (EGCG), was found more than two thirds of 42 patients in the trial showed a significant reduction in the number of leukemia cells in their blood or other signs the cancer was not spreading.

Chemical found in green tea ‘could help to treat leukemia’. The findings, to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Dr Tait Shanafelt, hematologist and lead author of the study, said: “Although only a comparative phase III trial can determine whether EGCG can delay progression of CLL, the benefits we have seen in most CLL patients who use the chemical suggest that it has modest clinical activity and may be useful for stabilising this form of leukemia, potentially slowing it down.”

All of the patients were at the early stages of the disease and were not showing symptoms so they would not be receiving treatment for their cancer, the researchers said. CLL often develops slowly with periods of remission when patients can simply be observed without treatment.

There are around 7,400 people diagnosed with leukemia in Britain a year and in around one third of cases it is a CLL.

New blood test can spot cancer before it develops

A blood test that can detect cancer before tumours grow has been developed by British scientists.

The Telegraph UK

The technology was developed by scientists at the University of Nottingham and Oncimmune, a medical research company. The test is the first to accurately recognise the signals sent out by a person’s immune system as cancerous. Early research suggests that the signals can be detected up to five years before a tumour is spotted, giving doctors and patients a vital head start in treating the illness.

The test, developed by clinicians in Nottingham and Kansas over 15 years, is to be introduced in America later this month. It has initially been devised to aid the detection lung cancer and is used alongside conventional screening.

The technology was developed by scientists at the University of Nottingham and Oncimmune, a medical research company.

The test works by identifying how the immune system responds to the first molecular signs of cancer growth. Cancerous cells produce small amounts of protein material called antigens which prompts the immune system to produce large amounts of autoantibodies. Scientists can now follow this activity with just 10ml of a patent’s blood.

Professor John Robertson, a breast cancer specialist who led the research, told The Times: “The earliest cancer we have seen is a cancer that has been screen detected, and yet biologically that’s late in the road of cancer development,” he said. “We are starting to understand carcinogenesis in a way that we have never seen before — seeing which proteins are going wrong, and how the immune system responds. It’s as if your body is shouting ‘I’ve got cancer’ way before a tumour can be detected.”

The research involved 8,000 patients and the test, known as EarlyCDT-Lung, is due to be introduced in Britain early next year.