Preventing prostate cancer progression with green tea

Men with prostate cancer who consumed the active compounds in green tea demonstrated a reduction in test results that predict prostate cancer progression, according to researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, in Louisiana.

First, the details.

  • 26 men with positive prostate biopsies and scheduled for radical prostatectomy were given daily doses of Polyphenon E for about 35 days until surgery.
    • Polyphenon E in capsules is an investigational drug that contains green tea’s active compounds.
  • Blood was collected before taking the drug and on the day of surgery.
  • The following proteins, which reflect progressing prostate cancer, were measured.
    • Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)
    • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
    • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
  • Other proteins measured included, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3).
    • Also associated with the growth of cancer cells.
  • Toxicity was monitored by measuring the blood levels of liver enzymes.

And, the results.

  • All the tests results decreased significantly during the study.
    • Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF): -19%
    • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF): -10%
    • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): -10%
  • Some patients demonstrated reductions of more than 30%.
  • All of the liver enzymes also decreased, 5 of them significantly: total protein, albumin, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and amylase.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “These findings support a potential role for Polyphenon E in the treatment or prevention of prostate cancer.”

These are the results of a study discussed here in 2007 when the researchers were recruiting patients.

There’s lots of work to be done. Positive test responses are encouraging, but long-term benefits are still to be confirmed. Still, it’s an example of the results that are possible with an herbal when a pharmaceutical company takes an organized approach to clinical research.

Also, it shouldn’t be assumed that drinking green tea would have the same effects as taking the pharmaceutical grade combination of green tea extracts in Polyphenon E

6/21/09 17:01 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.