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.