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Theanine Cancer Research


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Preliminary theanine cancer studies

This research is just starting but has already shown some intriguing results:

  • theanine from green tea can enhance the proliferation of gammadelta T cells and interferon secretion which play a role in protecting the body against malignant tumor cells (Percival SS, Bioactive food components that enhance gammadelta T cell function may play a role in cancer prevention, Journal of Nutrition, January 2008)

  • both theanine and green tea powder significantly reduced the volume and weight of liver cancer tumors in animals while also lowering cholesterol and triglycerides (Zhang G, Effects of dietary powdered green tea and theanine on tumor growth and endogenous hyperlipidemia in hepatoma-bearing rats, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, April 2002)

  • a cell study found that theanine (as well as most tea catechins, theflavins, and extracts) reduced the number of human breast cancer cells, human colon cancer cells, human liver cancer cells, and human prostate cancer cells (Friedman M, Structure-activity relationships of tea compounds against human cancer cells, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, January 2007)

Theanine improved chemotherapy drug

  • using theanine with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells, researchers found that when theanine was added to the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin), it almost tripled the concentration of doxorubicin inside the tumor and more than doubled the inhibitory effect on tumor growth, while at the same time reducing drug concentration in the heart and liver where it may become toxic (Sadzuka Y, The effects of theanine, as a novel biochemical modulator, on the antitumor activity of adriamycin, Cancer Letters, August 1996)

These results need further study before they could be incorporated into current anti-cancer programs.

However, the world’s cancer epidemic is growing and this kind of theanine cancer research could help many people.

How many people have cancer?

In the U. S., almost 11 million people have cancer (2005 estimate, NCI, ACS).

The World Health Organization estimates that new cases of cancers will increase from 10 million annually to 15 million annually by the year 2020 (primarily due to tobacco smoking and unhealthy lifestyles).

Follow more cancer research with a subscription to the Green Tea Health Newsletter here:



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This page last updated by Sharon Jones.

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