Tea aids recovery of radiation damaged skin
A team of American and German researchers have discovered that tea extracts can help reduce the skin damage caused by cancer radiation therapy.
The researchers say they believe the polyphenols present in both green and black tea inhibit inflammation but suggest other factors are also at work.
Skin toxicity is a common side effect of radiotherapy for solid tumors and managing the problem often causes treatment gaps and possibly affects the quality of the cancer cure.
There are currently no standard treatments recommended for skin treatment during radiotherapy.
The researchers looked at the effect of topically applied tea extracts on skin damage by radiation treatment in 60 patients with cancer of the head and neck or pelvic region and found that the tea reduced the duration of the skin damage by five to 10 days.
The team from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Freiburg say the tea extracts work at a cellular level to inhibit inflammatory pathways and reduce inflammation.
The researchers also studied the effects of green and black tea extracts on human and mouse white blood cells in laboratory cell cultures and found that the extracts suppressed the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in human white blood cells.
They say that green tea extract appeared to have higher anti-inflammatory properties than black tea extract but both tea extracts inhibited one major inflammatory pathway in mouse white blood cells.
The researchers say that tea extracts are an efficient, widely available treatment option for patients suffering from acute radiation-induced skin toxicity but are not exclusively dependent on the polyphenols in tea.
The study is published in the journal BMC Medicine.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD