In a study funded by Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center at Shreveport and Columbia University, Dr. Jerry McLarty and his team are looking at what effect Polyphenon E, a compound found in green tea extract, may have on the progression of breast cancer in women who have been diagnosed with the disease. We sat down with Dr. McLarty to learn more about his study.
Dr. McLarty’s team decided to study the effects of Polyphenon E after they “had evidence that there was something in green tea extract active against cancer cells in vitro (in the Petri dishes).” Polyphenon E was also attractive to the researchers since natural compounds have “potential to be biologically less toxic.”
“Many common medicines came from nature,” Dr. McLarty said. “Many anti-cancer drugs are synthesized versions of compounds found in plants.”
Phase II, or the clinical trial of Dr. McLarty’s research, has completed and is currently awaiting publication. Overall, Dr. McLarty called the results “encouraging but not definitive,” saying that his team found that “some biomarkers of cancer progression were modified in a beneficial direction, but the sample size was too small to reach statistical significance.” For conclusive results about whether Polyphenon E is beneficial to breast cancer patients, large-scale clinical trials must be performed, which are likely several years off.
Until large-scale clinical trials reach a conclusion, however, Dr. McLarty stressed that consuming any natural product in excess can potentially be dangerous, as “some things that appear to be beneficial in diet may in large quantities (especially in concentrated doses) be harmful.”
At this point, Dr. McLarty is looking forward to seeing what this research can result in. “We hope it can lead to a treatment for or preventive for cancer, or lead us to a better understanding of the mechanisms of action of green tea and other natural components that could lead to other treatments. But at this point all we know is that some biomarkers of cancer progression seem to be affected by green tea components.”
Check back soon for the next interview (Part II) with Dr. McLarty where we discuss cancer prevention and other areas of research where green tea is being studied.Powered by Sidelines