Green tea could prove to be a life-saver for leukaemia patients, new research suggests.
Patients given high doses of a green tea supplement saw significant improvements, including a 50 per cent reduction in the size of swollen lymph glands. Researchers hope the active ingredient in green tea may increase the survival chances of leukaemia patients with an aggressive form of the disease.
In a clinical trial, patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) received eight different doses of a commercially produced green tea extract known as Polyphenon E, which contains a powerful antioxidant.
Lymphocyte count - a measurement of numbers of white blood cells - was lowered in one third of the participants, indicating cancer regression. Tests have shown that green tea extract can combat cancer in the laboratory, but there has been conflicting evidence from studies of its effects on patients.
Dr Tait Shanafelt, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who led the US team conducting the latest trial, said: 'We found not only that patients tolerated the green tea extract at very high doses, but that many of them saw regression to some degree of their chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The majority of individuals who entered the study with enlarged lymph nodes saw a 50 per cent or greater decline in their lymph node size.'