Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Green Tea with Velcade

By now you have probably heard the warning ricochetting around the myeloma survivor community about NOT taking green tea or its derivatives with Velcade (bortezomib). It turns out that Green tea polyphenols block the anticancer effects of bortezomib and other boronic acid-based proteasome inhibitors. EGCG was particularly effective at preventing cell death from Velcade, both in vitro and in real people.

So, if we're on Velcade or the trial drug carfilzomib, we should stay away from green tea, right? And what about black tea, which contains similar polyphenols? Just don't drink tea?

When I brought this to the attention of my naturopath, Dr HH, she immediately took it a step further and wrote to an author of the study published in Blood Journal (see link above), asking if there was a safe time period before and after a Velcade infusion for a person to enjoy a cup of tea. The author responded by email as follows: "Based on our observations, in combination with the known half lives of bortezomib and green tea products, we would recommend a "safety zone" of 24 hours before and 24 hours after bortezomib injection for the avoidance of green tea and green tea products."

So it appears that you can enjoy your cup of tea and maybe even your EGCG supplement, if you like, as long as you maintain that 24-hour "safety zone" of time.

Questions remain: Would green tea interfere with any other myeloma drugs? Would other supplements interfere with Velcade? We have plenty of studies showing the benefits of various supplements, but few those have the supplement in combination with FDA-approved medicines like Revlimid, Thalidomide, or even dexamethasone.


  1. Don,

    This is a good advice. I also read that green tea and some medicine do not mix. I read that you do much running. Is that good for the bones? Maybe I should also go running. (I hope that the Google translation from Dutch to English is correct.)


  2. Thanks Hans,

    My oncologists are very supportive of running, resistance training, and exercise in general, especially for the bones but also for the immune system and everything else.

    Translation is working very well indeed.


  3. Everyone has tried to get me to drink green tea, but it just tasted flat. I do drink a ton of black tea, though. My first Velcade regimen held for 6 months, but the last one (without decadron) seems to hav failed after 2 months. Doc is running additional tests to be sure. However, I would like more info on black tea and Velcade. Thanks for the heads up. I was dxed in Dec 1996 with stage 3B MM at age 42. God is very good to me, as we did not have many of the drugs that are available now, yet the cancer disappeared after two years and stayed away for six years. God bless.

  4. carolyn, what drugs did they have you on initially that put you into regression for 6 years? Best of Luck.

  5. any updates to this finding? my mom has just been diagnosed w/ stage 3 MM and is currently on RVD. Id love to know if there is a link btwn green tea w/ velcade, or any drink/food that disturbs the effectiveness of any of the MM medications. all help appreciated, thanks!

  6. For finzmocean,
    I was diagnosed with stage 3-A, Iga kappa MM, 3 yrs ago. Went on RVD for 5 months before I achieved complete remission. However, the velcade left me with a very nasty case of neuropathy. Some folks get over this, some do not. I did. I've just started up with more vecade - however this time around, I'm doing the subcutaneous method. The shot apparently has been proven to deliver the punch you need, but you need, but 50% less chance of getting the neuropathy. Ask your mom's doctor about this. And best of luck to her.