According to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), chronic lymphocytic leukemia
(CLL) is a form of cancer that causes the
number of white blood cells called B lymphocytes,
or B cells, to increase abnormally. Eventually,
the cancerous cells can move through the
blood to the liver, spleen, and other organs.
When CLL spreads, it is usually treated
with an arsenal of side effect-laden chemotherapies.
But new research has revealed a natural
substance -- an extract of green tea --
may have the ability to put the brakes on
researchers recently announced these findings
in Chicago at the annual meeting of the
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
In a phase II clinical trial,
epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the major
component of green tea, halted the progression
in the majority of CLL patients.
is the latest in a series of Mayo studies
that shows EGCG appears to have a powerful
yet non-toxic impact on CLL. About eight
years ago, Mayo scientists first tested
EGCG in the lab and documented it reduced
the survival of CLL cells. This was followed
by a successful phase I clinical trial,
published last May in the Journal of Clinical
Oncology, that showed the leukemia cell
count was not only reduced in one-third
of the study participants, but a majority
of patients in the trial with enlarged lymph
nodes due to CLL saw a 50 percent or greater
reduction in their lymph node size.