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Papaya tea may treat cancer better than chemo

December 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
As alternative therapies slowly seep into mainstream medicine, one doctor is on a mission to treat cancer with tea.Linda Michael is battling an aggressive ovarian cancer that kills 15,000 women every year. She said monthly chemotherapy visits were just too much.

"I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't get off the couch," she said.

So she added a new treatment to the mix: tea made from papaya leaves, and she's doing a lot better than her oncologist thought she would do.

"I really believe there's something to it. Whether or not it's going to save my life, I don't know, come and see me in five years," said Michael.

University of Florida physician Nam Dang has the science to back up Michael's new brew.

"We have found that there are components in tea extracts that actually kill cancer cells directly," Dang said.

Dang found exposure to papaya leaf extract slows tumor growth in 10 types of cancer cells, and it also boosts the immune system, where traditional chemo treatments make it weaker.

"That's the excitement behind our finding, that we might have a drug that can do several things in fighting cancer," he said.

In other studies, University of Pennsylvania researchers found flaxseed reduces heart disease risk, and grape seed extract helps treat Alzheimer's disease, according to Mount Sinai Medical Center staff.

"Western medicine saved my life, I can't say anything bad about it, but chemo is tough stuff," Michael said.

With science on her side, Michael is now cooking up her own combo of old and new treatments.

If Dang's trial results are the same in human and animals, he's going to try to develop an actual cancer drug from the tea extract.


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