Next to deaths caused by heart disease, which is the number one killer, cancer is the second most feared killer disease.
There is little doubt that the quest to find the one natural substance to prevent or cure cancer could be regarded as one of the greatest pursuit of mankind.
It is true that a healthy diet may play a significant role in preventing it. But wouldn't it be great to find the one beverage or food that could truly work?
Many people and experts have suspected that tea contains many potent anti-cancer chemicals.
Indeed, many of them do. And there are perhaps dozens or even hundreds of potentially effective anti-cancer substances that have not been isolated and tested yet.
Essiac tea, a blend made up of four herbs, is said to be a type of tea that just might hold that promise. It has been heavily publicized as being helpful in the fight against cancer.
So what are some of the scientific studies that support the belief that drinking essiac tea could be helpful in the prevention and treatment of cancer?
Let's look at what researchers have uncovered...
Despite ongoing research in finding, isolating and testing anti-cancer substances found in essiac tea, it has been a slow endeavour. It is partly hampered by lack of funding with no major significant breakthrough so far.
Most of these research studies on uncovering the health benefits of natural substances are funded by government. And government funding is drying up in today's economic times.
However, there are only small amounts of research studies to date. For example, one lab study conducted by researchers show that extracts from essiac tea can stop prostate tumour cells from growing in a test tube.
Moreover, at the correct dose, it also seem to boost the immune system as well, which is especially beneficial for those individuals who have low immune system function.
Below is the reference to this study:
Thus extracts from essiac tea may be able to inhibit tumor cell growth while enhancing immune response to enhance the body's own cancer cells killing system.
This is especially valuable in immune-suppressed individuals since many of them are on chemotherapy, chemical agents that are known to weaken the person's own immune system.
Even though this is just an experiment done in a test tube, the results do show some promise and will encourage further research studies.
In yet another study, lead researcher S.S. Leonard discovered that extracts of essiac tea does more than just inhibit cancerous cell growth.
It was shown that there are active substances in essiac tea that act as anti-oxidants, scavenging cancer-causing reactive oxygen substances.
It was able to reduce the presence of radical signals by up to 84%.
Moreover, it directly prevented hydroxyl radicals from damage the critical genetic material (DNA).
As you know, damage to the DNA is the underlying cause of cancer. Substances that can stabilize and prevent DNA damage could reduce the chances that a cell may turn cancerous.
Below is the reference to this revealing study:
Again, just like the first lab study, this positive result further strengthens the belief that using essiac tea for cancer treatment or prevention may be of some potential benefits.
But what about research studies done in patients with cancer or at least in animals with cancer? Are there any such studies out there?
Yes. Read on...
There was a study conducted at the Vancouver General Hospital in mice injected with human prostate cancer cells.
The researchers compared the effectiveness of essiac tea with the conventional anticancer agent paclitaxel.
What was the result after given the mice doses up to 240 mg/kg of the body weight of the essiac tea extract for 28 days?
Although the extract of essiac tea was safe, there was no decrease in tumour size compared to the mice treated with paclitaxel.
From this, the researchers had to conclude that essiac did not show any anti-cancer effect in mice. This is not what we want to hear.
Here's the reference to this study:
And what about the reported ability of essiac tea to improve quality of life for cancer patients? Some have suggested this benefit.
Five hundred and ten women who have breast cancer were reviewed in this study to discover if this was true.
Using a standardized health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) scoring system to measure various factors, the researchers found no benefit.
There were no difference between those women who drank essiac tea and those who did not. It had no effect on improving their moods either.
Here's the reference to this published paper:
Keep in mind that this study doesn't address the question whether drinking essiac tea would be helpful as an anti-cancer agent.
But it does show that the other reported benefits for cancer patients to drink essiac tea does not seem to exist.
These are not encouraging results, taken as a whole, but these are not reasons to stop our search.
Again, there could be one or two or perhaps even several dozens of active and potentially useful anti-cancer substances contained in essiac tea. Clearly, scientists have not isolated and identified all of them yet.
Thinking of drinking lots of essiac tea for cancer treatment?
It appears to be unlikely to be an effective cure for cancer.
Directly soaking cancer cells in essiac tea is one thing; and that study showed anti-cancer benefits. But one animal study showed that it had no effect on the prostate cancer cells at all.
This doesn't mean that drinking lots of essiac tea doesn't prevent cancer. Indeed, the truth is that without a properly designed clinical cancer prevention trial, no one knows for certain.
So if you drink essiac tea because you enjoy the flavour or taste, go for it.
But if want to start drinking essiac tea for cancer because you think it will help, it is impossible to say based on the limited scientific evidences that are available to date.
So what has science shown to be helpful in cancer prevention?
Would you believe it that it's pretty simple? By having a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits, you can cut back your risk of getting all kinds of cancer. This is proven in clinical studies.
Sometime, the most effective things are the simplest. This is assuming that you are disciplined enough to follow through on it.
Many individuals are searching for the "holy grail", the one substance that will cure cancer. It probably doesn't exist. For example, people have hoped that eating large amounts of asparagus or drinking asparagus juice would help. No go.
Other have placed their hopes on drinking lemon juice or eating lemons. Not quite the answer.
By looking for that one "thing" for curing cancer, the risk you face is that you might miss out on other foods or drinks that may be just as good for you.
If you are looking for a list of natural remedies that may be helpful in the fight against cancer, see the link below.
Revised: June 3, 2013