Two days ago, I was doing a journal scan and came across an interesting article in Blood about how green tea appears to affect the action of a cancer drug, Velcade (bortezomib) from Millennium, which is used to treat multiple myeloma. It turned out to be really interesting and newsworthy so I tweeted about it, since quite a few cancer survivors and advocacy groups follow me and thought it might be helpful. I also meant to write a more detailed post about it later that day, but sadly events intervened. Shame on me, as I would have got the scoop before the major news organisations!
Image via Wikipedia
Green tea has long been thought to offer health benefits and many people enjoy it as opposed to iced tea, coffee or sodas. The researchers, from USC in Los Angeles, were curious to investigate the anti-cancer effects of the green tea but what they found was more than they bargained for:
The results were noticeable enough (100% inactivation) to suggest that green tea polyphenols may have the potential to negate the therapeutic efficacy of bortezomib by preventing its boronic unit on the molecule from interacting with the cancer cell. Green tea supplements are also available in health food stores in the US in
capsules containing up to 50 times as much polyphenol as a single cup
of tea. They have already been associated with liver and kidney damage.
Patients undergoing Velcade treatment may well find that consumption of green tea products contraindicated with this therapy. It will be interesting to see if abstinence from green tea products improves the drugs efficacy, which is usually around 30% of patients who respond to treatment.
E. B. Golden, P. Y. Lam, A. Kardosh, K. J. Gaffney, E. Cadenas, S. G. Louie, N. A. Petasis, T. C. Chen, A. H. Schonthal (2009). Green tea polyphenols block the anticancer effects of bortezomib and other boronic acid-based proteasome inhibitors Blood DOI: 10.1182/blood-2008-07-171389