Researchers found that a compound in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may inhibit fibroid growth by targeting signaling pathways.
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors composed of smooth muscle cells and connective tissue. They can be microscopic or grow to large masses, which can enlarge or distort the uterus.
Symptoms associated with uterine fibroids can vary. However, some women experience heavy uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, and even infertility.
Treating fibroids often involves surgery, so identifying a non-surgical treatment option would help many women avoid such invasive procedures.
In a pre-clinical study recently published in Scientific Reports, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that the natural compound EGCG may prevent or slow fibroid growth. If these results hold true in future investigations, it could open the door to a new non-surgical treatment option for the estimated 26 million women in the United States with fibroids.
For the study, the research team used laboratory cultures of uterine fibroids retrieved from living patients. They planned to investigate how treatment with EGCG impacts the expression of specific proteins associated with the extracellular matrix in fibroid cells.
Specifically, the team focused on a matrix protein called fibronectin, a protein linked to cell division known as cyclin D1, and another protein called connective tissue growth factor (CTGF).
The researchers exposed the fibroid cells to EGCG extract at a concentration of 100 micromoles per liter for 24 hours, then utilized a Western blot technique to detect the levels of cyclin D1 and CTGF proteins in the treated cells compared to the untreated control group.
The team observed a significant 46% to 52% reduction in fibronectin protein levels in the EGCG-treated fibroid cells compared to the non-treated cells.
In addition, EGCG disrupted various pathways associated with fibroid tumor cell growth, signaling, movement, and metabolism, which led to an 86% decrease in CTGF proteins in the treated cells compared to the control group.
In a Johns Hopkins news release, lead author Md Soriful Islam, Ph.D., M.Sc., a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says, "The results from this study show that EGCG targets many signaling pathways involved in fibroid growth, particularly the extracellular matrix."
"EGCG supplements could be an easily accessible and natural way to relieve symptoms and slow fibroid growth," Islam suggests.
The scientists note that the goal of their research was to explore using EGCG supplements to treat fibroids, not just drinking green tea. So, it’s unclear whether EGCG in green tea consumption alone could produce the same results.
In addition, some evidence suggests EGCG supplements are well-tolerated and not associated with liver toxicity. However, more studies are needed to determine whether these supplements are a clinically safe and effective natural treatment for fibroids.
- National Library of Medicine. Management of Uterine Fibroids.
- Scientific Reports. Targeting fibrotic signaling pathways by EGCG as a therapeutic strategy for uterine fibroids.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. New Study Using Human Fibroid Cells Supports Use of Green Tea Compound as Treatment for Uterine Fibroids.