Oxidation and Cancer

It was William Li’s Ted Talk on angiogenesis that set me on the path to leave corporate America for a role helping others heal! His talk revolutionized the way I looked at my own health, and I encourage you to take the time to watch it if you haven't.

For today’s purposes, I wanted to focus on metastasis and green tea. So many people know that green tea can be beneficial, but they don’t always understand the WHY. The way I practice, I encourage people to understand the WHY, as I feel it ties their goals and my recommendations together in a nice little package.

So let’s start with the basics - what is metastasis? Metastasis is when we see the primary location of cancer spread to other sites - I loved how it was explained in my education that breast cancer that spreads to the lung is still breast cancer - not lung cancer - more specifically, metastasized breast cancer. Per an article by Naghma Khan and Hasan Mukhtar, metastasis “remains the principle cause of deaths of cancer patients”. The authors also go on to explain what exactly tea is, how it’s derived, and note that green tea is perhaps the most impactful on human health, and continue to explore the impact of EGCG (polyphenolic compound), with an antioxidant effect of “about 25-100 times more effective than that of vitamins C and E and appears to be the most potent of all catechins”. While the study references several different types of cancer (skin, prostate, breast, lung, liver, colon, pancreatic, and miscellaneous), the results appeared to be overall the same at a high level - green tea showed minor improvements in tumor size, reduction of colonies, etc.

From a different angle, the University of Salford evaluated matcha green tea specifically in correlation with cancer stem cells. Before diving in, not everyone may realize that matcha, unlike other teas, is actually a powder. Matcha is made from young green tea leaves, and ground into a fine powder. That powder, mixed with hot (not boiling) water (and hopefully some warming ginger and other spices too!) makes a wonderful frothy green tea beverage. Through the Salford study, they used “metabolic phenotyping on lines of breast cancer stem cells and found that matcha ‘shifted cancer cells toward quiescent metabolic state’ and dropped their spread at a relatively low concentration (0.2 mg/mL)”. They also went on to explore that matcha actually affected signaling pathways that promoting cancer stem cells, suggesting that matcha may possibly be a viable substitute for a drug called rapamycin. The article goes on to also confirm that through the metabolic phenotyping, they found the tea suppressed oxidative mitochondrial metabolism (meaning the cell cannot re-fuel, aiding in essentially apoptosis), which makes sense, given the high levels of antioxidants found in matcha - some research has found that matcha has as much as 137 times the amount of antioxidants as what is found in a low-grade green tea.

There are several beverages including bone broth and aloe vera juice that hold potential powerful properties against metastasis, but green tea (and specifically matcha) seems to be the most widely recognized, and quite tasty too! Some may not like the flavor of bone broth (I encourage you to use it in soups, rice if eating rice or quinoa (baby steps!), etc), and you may not enjoy aloe vera juice, although it can be added to smoothies, etc. Although matcha can be relatively easy to brew, it can also be used in “homemade ice cream”, or a smoothie, etc. Combining it with mint (also a great digestive soother and powerful herb!) can give a soothing effect, particularly after hyperthermic treatment! When drank repeatedly throughout the day, not only may this halt metastatic activity, but it’s also worth using during earlier stages of cancer to help prevent metastasis overall. Of course, this should be reviewed as with any other herb or treatment to ensure it’s right for the client/patient, but the benefits of green tea and matcha for ANY individual seem endless if tolerated.

1. Naghma Khan, Hasan Mukhtar, ‘Cancer and metastasis: prevention and treatment by green tea’, July 25, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142888/

2. University of Salford, ‘Matcha green tea kills cancer stem cells in tests’, August 31, 2018, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-08-matcha-green-tea-cancer-stem.html

3. David J Weiss , Christopher R Anderton, ‘Determination of Catechins in Matcha Green Tea by Micellar Electrokinetic Chromatography’, September 5, 2003, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14518774/

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