(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is an active polyphenol derived from green tea and can play a significant role in inhibiting cancer cell signaling and therefore, tumor growth.
Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth combined with a reduction in cellular death. Cancer cell death is referred to as apoptosis. EGCG is a highly-researched chemopreventative agent used to induce apoptosis and inhibit cancer cell proliferation. EGCG is a novel adjunctive cancer treatment that works synergistically with some conventional medical treatments including certain forms of chemotherapy and radiation. In parts of the world that commonly use and promote integrative medicine, like Germany for example, medical oncologists often will use EGCG as an adjunct to conventional medical treatments in cancer care.
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) is a type of tyrosine kinase receptor and is also a marker for metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread from its original organ to other organs and systems in the body). Therefore, higher levels of EGFR detected can be correlated to increased cancer burden in the body. Receptors like EGFR need a molecule to bind to it in order to regulate its activity (in normal cells). In cancer, either too many of these binding molecules are formed or there is an actual mutation found in the EGFR; both of which permits EGFR’s constant activity. EGFR promotes cancer cell growth, metabolism and survival in the tumor microenvironment created by the cancer cells. Therefore, modulating EGFR receptor activity is an integral part of controlling epithelial-derived cancers.
There are incredible amounts of research that have been done on EGCG and its role in inhibiting the signaling pathways stimulated by EGFR. EGCG has been shown to inhibit expression of EGFR and inhibit transactivation of EGFR.
But, drinking a few cups of green tea per day will not suffice! The amounts of EGCG required to trigger the molecular response explained above, is much much more than can be obtained from drinking green tea. Well-researched and well-formulated supplements are available, which contain therapeutic doses of the active ingredient in addition to a standardized amount available per capsule.
Although EGCG is a natural agent, it does not mean that EGCG is safe for every individual to take. Depending on where the cancer (or other condition) is active in the body and other pharmacological agents you may be taking, EGCG may not be suitable for everyone. Your Naturopathic Doctor will be able to advise you on dosing that is safe and effective for you, if it is indicated and does not interact with any medications you are taking.
Further research will provide information on EGCG as a potential adjunctive cancer care treatment.
This blog post is for information purposes only and does not substitute a naturopathic medical consultation by a licensed board-certified naturopathic doctor. Always ask your ND before trying new supplements, for your safety.
Minnelli et al. 2021. Effect of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate on EGFR signalling and migration in non-small cell lung cancer. International Journal of Molecular Sciences.22:21. 11833.
Gan et al. 2017. Absorption, metabolism, anti-cancer effect and molecular targets of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG): An updated review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
Sasaki et al. 2013. The role of epidermal growth factor receptor in cancer metastasis and microenvironment. Biomed research international.
Yu-Chao Ma et al. 2014. Epigallocatechin gallate inhibits the growth of human lung cancer by directly targeting the EGFR signaling pathway. 31:3. 1791-2431.