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Cancer | Green Tea Protects Against Cervical Cancer

Green Tea Protects Against Cervical Cancer

Extracts from green tea may be useful for treating precancerous conditions of the cervix, potentially halting the progression to cancer, according to the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (2003;12:383–90).

Cervical cancer affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. It is the second most common cancer affecting the female reproductive tract and usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 55 years. A virus called human papilloma virus (HPV) plays a role in cervical cancer development. HPV also causes genital warts, and can be an indicator of increased cervical cancer risk; however, only a few strains of HPV are linked to cervical cancer development.

Pap smears are useful for early detection of cervical cancer. When a suspicious area is found on the cervix, a biopsy of cells from the cervix is taken to confirm the diagnosis. Precancerous areas, called cervical dysplasia, are usually surgically removed. Without early treatment, 30 to 55% of cervical dysplasia progresses to cancer, and the disease can be fatal.

Green tea possesses substances shown to inhibit the growth of many types of cancers including liver, stomach, skin, lung, breast, and prostate cancer. Polyphenols are the compounds in green tea responsible for its anticancer effects. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most effective of the polyphenols at inhibiting cancer growth and inducing cancer cell death. Polyphenol E (poly E) is a polyphenol mixture that contains EGCG.

The new study evaluated the effect of green tea extracts on cervical lesions. Eighty-eight women with either chronic cervicitis (ongoing abnormal inflammation of the cervix) or mild to severe cervical dysplasia took part in the study. The women were assigned to receive either (1) poly E ointment applied locally to the cervix, (2) poly E ointment applied locally to the cervix plus one 200-mg capsule of poly E per day, (3) one 200-mg capsule of poly E per day, (4) one 200-mg capsule of EGCG per day, or (5) no treatment. The poly E ointment was applied two times per week for 12 weeks, and the capsules were taken for 8 to 12 weeks. Biopsies of cervical tissue were taken before and after treatment and Pap smears were taken every four weeks during the study to determine the presence and extent of abnormal cells. HPV DNA titers (an indicator of the severity of HPV infection in the body) were measured before and after treatment.

Overall, 69% of the women treated with green tea extracts showed a positive response compared with 10% of the women not receiving treatment. A positive response was defined either as a decrease in or complete elimination of HPV, a decrease in the size of the cervical lesion, or the elimination of abnormal cells as detected on Pap smear or biopsy. All of the green tea preparations resulted in a similar response.

The green tea extracts used in this study appear to be safe and should be considered for the treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix, with the hope of stopping the progression to cancer. However, this therapy should be instituted only under close medical supervision; if it is unsuccessful, other measures must be taken to prevent the condition from worsening.

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths, Inc., in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp teaches holistic medicine classes and provides consultations focusing on detoxification and whole-foods nutrition.

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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.


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