Green tea has been used as a medicine for over five thousands years in Chinese medicine. The plant, called Camellia sinensis, has been used to treat many health issues. The tea has been known to lower cholesterol, cure headaches, improve cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, dissolve blood clots, speed fat burning and increase metabolic weight loss, and cure depression. Recent studies have now indicated that green tea can reduce prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men in the United States. Nearly 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, leading to an expected death of 27,360 in 2009.
The active ingredients in green tea are called polyphenols. In 2008, the FDA found benefits from green tea in treating prostate cancer to be inconclusive. This prompted researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center to conduct an open-label, single-arm, Phase II clinical trail. Twenty-six men participated in the small study. They ranged in age from 41 to 68, and were all suffering from prostate cancer and scheduled for radical prostatectomy surgery. They were given the equivalent of 12 cups of green tea a day for an average of 34 days. This was 1.3 gram of polyphenon E (EGCG). On the day before their scheduled surgery, the men were reevaluated. The biomarkers for prostate cancer were reduced in each of the men. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) was reduced by an average of almost 19%. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was reduced by 9.9%, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) was reduced by 10.4%. Some of the men showed numbers reduced by as much as one third.
Researchers at Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport were pleased to note that the study participants had no side effects relating to liver function, as had been a concern. The liver enzymes in the men remained constant. The study showed that green tea can be used to halt the growth of prostate tumors, but green tea has not been shown to prevent it; however, researchers are confident that green tea, taken in the appropriate quantities, may be able to prevent prostate cancer from occurring.
Another study in Italy used men with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia, which can be a condition that leads to prostate cancer. The research concluded that green tea consumption did in fact lower the risk of prostate cancer.
All men over the age of 50 are encouraged to be tested annually as a preventative measure.