CancerPolyphenon ETea

Activity of green tea extract in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

During the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Minnesota will present the results of a study of Polyphenon E in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients.

The primary active ingredient in Polyphenon E is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is extracted from a green tea. This drug is approved by the FDA to treat genital warts and being studied in several cancers.

First, the details.

  • 42 previously untreated patients with asymptomatic early stage CLL were given Polyphenon E 2,000 mg twice daily for 6 months.

And, the results.

  • At the time of the presentation, 31 patients completed study therapy while 11 patients had not.
  • Side effects were generally mild to moderate and included:
    • Elevated liver enzymes (43%)
    • Abdominal pain (29%)
    • Nausea (57%)
  • 1 patient experienced a partial remission (decrease in tumor size or extent of cancer in the body).
  • Other signs of clinical activity included a sustained (at least 20%) reduction in absolute lymphocyte count (characteristically elevated in CLL) and reduction lymph nodal areas.
  • Overall, 28 (67%) patients fulfilled the criteria for a biologic response based on attaining either a sustained at least 20% decline in absolute lymphocyte count and/or at least 50% reduction in nodal areas.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “EGCG containing green tea extracts may have potential as disease stabilizing agents in patients with early-stage CLL.”

These results support the findings in an earlier study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

6/5/10 17:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.