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Fight Breast Cancer Now with Green Tea and Vitamin D*

Posted Mar 07 2011 10:46am
Go for Green Tea

While chemotherapy is an effective and important part of breast cancer treatment, breast cancer cells often become resistant to the chemotherapy drugs.  Because of this, the discovery of agents that can re-sensitize breast cancer cells to chemotherapy is an active area of research.

Newly published breast cancer research examined the ability of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a bioactive phytochemical found in green tea, to sensitize breast cancer cells to the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel in cell culture and in a mouse model of breast cancer [1].

In the cell culture test, the study investigators treated three different breast cancer cell types with either EGCG alone, paclitaxel alone, or a combination of EGCG + paclitaxel.  Compared with paclitaxel alone, treatment of breast cancer cells with the combination of EGCG + paclitaxel resulted in a dramatic decrease in cell viability and increase in programmed cell death.

For their mouse study, the researchers injected breast cancer cells under the skin of mice and allowed tumors to develop.  After the tumors were large enough to feel, the mice were treated with EGCG alone, paclitaxel alone, or a combination of EGCG + paclitaxel. Co-treatment with EGCG + paclitaxel substantially reduced tumor growth.  This reduction in tumor growth appeared to be related to programmed cell death since the index used to measure cell death was greater with co-treatment (12%) compared to either treatment alone (1.8% for EGCG alone and 4.2% for paclitaxel alone).

These study results indicate that the main bioactive phytochemical in green tea, EGCG, is capable of sensitizing breast cancer cells to a standard chemotherapy drug, suggesting that EGCG has the potential to improve the effectiveness of standard breast cancer chemotherapy.  Overall, this is more good news for green tea.  In addition to the benefits shown in this study, other studies have shown that drinking green tea can reduce breast cancer risk.

Adequate Amounts of Vitamin D Are a Must

A new scientific review paper summarizing the potential benefits of vitamin D for breast cancer survivors was recently published in the journal Nutrition [2].  Some of the points discussed in this summary of the scientific literature include
  • Several studies have reported an inverse relationship between vitamin D intake and breast cancer risk - meaning that higher levels of vitamin D consumption were associated with reduced breast cancer risk.
  • Up to 75% of women with breast cancer are deficient in vitamin D.
  • Some studies have reported that higher vitamin D levels might support improvements in breast cancer survival after diagnosis.
  • Animal studies have suggested that a lack of vitamin D receptors in breast tissue might be one cause of increased breast tumor development.
  • Breast cell changes suggestive of breast cancer appear to be associated with a breakdown in normal vitamin D metabolism.
  • Adequate vitamin D consumption might provide a number of non-cancer benefits for cancer patients including improvements of bone health, quality of life, and mood.
The authors of this review paper also indicate that there is evidence that vitamin D has cellular effects that are important in breast cancer progression.  Furthermore, they suggest that women at high risk for breast cancer or recently diagnosed with breast cancer should have their blood levels of vitamin D checked with the aim of maintaining levels between 30-50 ng/ml.

Some of the points explored in this review paper are extremely important and demonstrate just how vital it is to make sure we all obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D from our daily diet.  We can do this by eating foods naturally rich in vitamin D (tuna, sardines, salmon, beef liver, eggs), choosing vitamin D fortified products, getting adequate exposure to sunlight, and/or taking a vitamin D supplement.

Please let your family and friends know they can download a FREE copy of my breast cancer reduction book at and sign up for free weekly breast cancer research updates.

  1. Luo T, Wang J, Yin Y, Hua H, Jing J, Sun X, Li M, Zhang Y, Jiang Y.  (-)-Epigallocatechin gallate sensitizes breast cancer cells to paclitaxel in a murine model of breast carcinoma.  Breast Cancer Research 2010; 12:R8.
  2. Hines SL, Jorn HKS, Thompson KM, Larson JM.  Breast cancer survivors and vitamin D: a review.  Nutrition 2010; 26:255-262.
Discuss this information with your doctor to determine what is right for you. This information does not take the place of your doctor's professional advice, nor does it substitute for prescription medication, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or any other medical treatment. Unless specified otherwise, risk reductions are reported as relative risks or odds ratios in human clinical, animal studies, or lab culture studies. Fight Now™ is a trademark of Aaron Tabor, MD. FIGHT NOW is not associated with, or endorsed by, Johns Hopkins. ©2011 Aaron Tabor MD. All Rights Reserved.
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