By John Schieszer
ANAHEIM, Calif—The use of supplements derived from green tea appears to protect against inflammation of the urinary tract, investigators reported at the American Urological Association annual meeting. Results of a new study suggest that herbal supplementation with catechin compounds found in green tea may be a viable option for the treatment of inflammatory bladder conditions, such as interstitial cystitis, and possibly can also prevent bladder cancer.
Researchers investigated the effects of green tea extract, including 2 green tea extract catechin components, on the viability of normal and malignant human bladder urothelial cells in vitro. Nitric oxide availability was used to determine cell function and activity with the Greiss assay and diaminodifluorofluorescein (DAF-FM) diacetate, an important reagent for quantitating low concentrations of nitric oxide in cells.
"We discovered that catechins found in green tea protected both normal and cancerous bladder cells from inflammation when we exposed the cells to hydrogen peroxide," said Michael Chancellor, MD, professor of urology and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Although further studies are needed, these results indicate that herbal supplements from green tea could be a treatment option for various bladder conditions that are caused by injury or inflammation."
Normal and cancerous bladder cells were exposed to 2 major catechin components of green tea, epigallocatechin gallate and epicatechin gallate, for 23 hours. Both components significantly protected cell lines from exposure to hydrogen peroxide, which damages or kills cells. The concentrations of epigallocatechin gallate and epicatechin gallate used in the study were at levels that may be achieved through dietary intake.
According to Dr Chancellor, green tea may also play a role in preventing bladder cancer and a host of other bladder conditions.
"There appears to be no downside to drinking green tea. Perhaps in the future we can use the extract from green tea to treat bladder inflammation," he told . "You would not need to drink a whole pot of tea. If you drink too much of it you get a higher amount of caffeine beside the extra liquid. In somebody with urinary urge incontinence or overactive bladder syndrome, drinking excessive fluid will be counterproductive."
Although these findings are preliminary, it may be acceptable for primary care physicians to recommend 2 cups of green tea a day for men or women who suffer from interstitial cystitis to alleviate some of the symptoms, Dr Chancellor said. However, he cautioned that randomized controlled clinical trials are still needed. Studies are also needed to evaluate the overall effects of other green tea extracts and catechins.
"We are excited that an ingredient as safe and natural as that coming from green tea may offer benefits for people with inflamed and irritated bladder. Perhaps we can develop a similar strategy for urinary incontinence," said Dr Chancellor.