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Green tea and endometrial cancer research at UC

UC research to see if green tea helps later stages of endometrial cancer

October 17, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) science student in collaboration with the Christchurch School of Medicine has been researching to see if extracts from green tea could help treat the later stages of endometrial cancer.

Green tea has been shown by a large number of research groups to be beneficial for health. UC student Tessa Lambert has looked at an extract from green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

She said her research, supervised by Dr Ashley Garrill and Dr Kenny Chitcholtan, suggested that extracts of green tea helped to weaken cancer cells but more research was needed.

Endometrial cancer is the leading gynaecological malignancy in New Zealand, so it was important to find drugs which could treat the later stages of the cancer, she said today.

``I wanted to know if EGCG could help to kill endometrial cancer cells which were mimicking stages when the cancer spreads to other regions of the body. These stages do not react to radio-chemo treatments currently used to destroy them.

``I examined whether EGCG could enhance the effect of an anti-cancer agent which is used in the laboratory. This anti-cancer agent targets a particular process that occurs at a higher rate in endometrial cancer cells and makes the cancer cells grow and divide more readily than normal cells. I treated the cancer cells with combination of treatments to see how they affected the cancer alone and if the effects could be enhanced when the treatments were used together.

``The outcome was that EGCG alone did decrease the levels of a chemical the cancer cells use to make blood vessels around themselves, which they need in order to gain nutrients. Without these blood vessels they won’t be able to get enough nutrients and the cancer cells could die.’’

She said the EGCG in her research also decreased the metabolic activity of the cells, so they weren’t efficiently processing the nutrients they did get and so were weakened.

Patients undergoing radiotherapy can drink green tea without it effecting their treatment, and by doing this they could help protect their normal cells from the harsh treatments.

Lambert said she had always wanted to do cancer research since high school, because she wanted to help people and a number of people close to her had been affected by cancer including endometrial cancer.

She will present her research findings at UC’s annual science biology conference on campus today.


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