Green Tea May Improve MRIs

Female patient.MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanning is a type of radiology technology that uses radio waves, magnetism, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRIs are used to detect:

  • brain abnormalities, including tumors and dementias
  • injuries from sports or trauma
  • musculoskeletal problems
  • most spinal conditions/injuries
  • vascular abnormalities
  • female pelvic issues
  • prostate problems
  • some gastrointestinal tract conditions
  • certain ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems
  • soft tissue and bone pathology/conditions

Studies have shown that MRIs are as effective as PET-CT scans at diagnosing cancer, and don’t carry any harmful radiation risks. According to a study conducted by Stanford researchers, a PET-CT scan detected 163/174 tumors and an MRI detected 158/174 tumors in patients with lymphoma or sarcoma.

New research reveals that compounds in green tea may improve MRIs even further, thereby raising the rates of successful cancer detection, which can mean the difference between life and death.

How Green Tea Can Help

Researchers have begun to use nanoparticles, particularly iron oxide, to help improve bio-medical imaging. Unfortunately, nanoparticles tend to clump together before arriving at the appropriate areas of the body. Intrigued by the documented anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects of green tea, researchers set out to see if catechins in green tea might be able to help direct nanoparticles to their intended designations.

They coated iron-oxide nanoparticles with green tea catechins and then gave them to mice with cancer. MRI scans revealed imaging agents gathered in tumor cells and showed a strong contrast from surrounding non-tumor cells. The study was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

More research is in the works, but green tea catechins show potential for use in MRIs and related bio-medical imaging technology.