Skin toxicity is a common side effect of radiation for solid tumors. Besides damaged skin, radiation that leads to skin toxicity can cause gaps in treatment while the skin heals. Researchers from UCLA and the University of Freiburg, Germany wanted to find out if green and black tea extracts, with their anti-inflammatory properties, could protect against skin toxicity and reduce its duration.
The volunteers, 60 patients with cancer of the head and neck or pelvic region, were given topical skin treatments of green or black tea extracts before radiation. The tea extracts, which in “test tube” studies reduced the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, decreased the duration of skin toxicity after radiation by 5-10 days in the cancer patients. These effects were seen with both green and black tea extracts, although green tea extract was more effective.