Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas or fibromyomas, are noncancerous growths that can form on the inner or outer surfaces of a woman’s uterus. In some cases, they are microscopic in size; however, they can also grow large enough to completely fill a uterus’ interior space. According to a study published in 2010 in the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,” a substance in green tea appears to significantly shrink the size of uterine fibroids.
Women develop fibroids more frequently than any other type of pelvic tumor, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubMed Health. They most commonly appear after the age of 30 and disproportionately affect African Americans. Depending on your circumstances, you can develop a fibroid just below the surface of your interior uterine lining, in your uterus’ muscle wall, just beneath the surface of your exterior uterine lining or on fleshy stalks that form inside or outside your uterus. While doctors don’t know why fibroids form, their growth appears to rely on your body’s supply of the hormone estrogen.
Green Tea and EGCG
Green tea comes from the same plant species as black tea and oolong tea. Unlike those varieties, green tea does not go through any process of fermentation after it is harvested. For this reason, it contains relatively high amounts of substances called polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and can potentially combat the harmful effects of cell-damaging molecules called free radicals. The most biologically active polyphenol green tea is called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. In addition to dried leaves and leaf-containing capsules, you can purchase green tea in liquid and standardized extracts.
EGCG's Fibroid Effects
In a study on rats and mice published in the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology," researchers introduced varying doses of green tea-derived EGCG into test tubes that contained cells of uterine fibroid tumors. They also gave the mice oral doses of EGCG. Within 24 hours of its introduction, EGCG began to slow tumor growth. When fibroid tumors were measured at 4- and 8-week intervals, they showed a medically significant decrease in both their weight and overall volume. The authors of the study concluded that EGCG can effectively halt fibroid growth and trigger the death of fibroid cells in a test tube and in live animals.
Despite their promising results, the tests reported in the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” were performed on animals, not humans. As of January 2010, the authors of the study were actively recruiting human participants for a clinical trial, which may more fully reveal the real-world benefits of green tea-derived EGCG for fibroid treatment. Green tea extracts that contain EGCG or other active substances can potentially increase your risks for liver problems, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Consult your doctor if you have fibroids and ask for his advice before you take any form of concentrated green tea.