Green tea has long been known to have numerous health benefits and has been used medicinally in Asian culture for centuries. Here in the Western world we’re only just catching on to its effectiveness, but several studies are showing just how beneficial it can be. Just one of the areas where green tea can have a positive impact is in relation to cancer, so looking into it would definitely be worthwhile.
Green tea is full of antioxidants which can have a positive effect on the body. The body produces oxidants (or free radicals) which, if left unchecked, can damage other cells in the body and can leave them open to cancer formation. Antioxidants protect the body against this free radical damage by seizing oxidants and stopping them in their tracks, thus helping to inhibit cell damage.
Certain antioxidants found in green tea specifically target enzyme activity that can lead to cancer, and it’s these antioxidants that most excite the scientific community. There are two specific cancer-fighting antioxidants in green tea – epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epigallocatechin (EGC) – which can have huge benefits, with studies showing that green tea can significantly reduce the incidence of tumours as well as inhibiting cancer cell growth.
For example, a study at the Kyushu University found that the growth of lung cancer cells significantly reduced when two to three cups of green tea were drunk every day. Another study looking at the relation between lung cancer and green tea took place at the Chung Shan Medical University, which showed that green tea might have a positive effect on the incidence of lung cancer in smoking patients.
The study included 510 participants, of which 340 were control subjects and 170 had lung cancer. They looked at several environmental factors including smoking habits and green tea consumption (among other things), and found that smokers who didn’t drink green tea had a 12.71-fold increased risk of developing lung cancer compared to those who smoked but drank at least one cup of green tea per day. The study concluded that the antioxidants found in green tea could have a modulating effect on the incidence of lung cancer, so smokers (and indeed non-smokers) could be advised to include it in their diet.
Similar studies support this finding. A study from the Life Science journal found that, when used in combination with tamoxifen, green tea could be effective at suppressing the growth of breast cancer cells. Another study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that drinking green tea could reduce the risk of oesophageal cancer by up to 60%.
So how does green tea have such an effect? Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) noticed that extract of green tea was able to target cancer cells without harming other healthy cells, and it also made cancer cells bind together thus making it harder for them to spread and easier to treat. Another study from the University of Rochester found that the antioxidants in green tea can shut down harmful cells, and both of these findings give valuable insight into how green tea can have such a positive effect on cancer.
Studies continue to be conducted into the relationship between green tea and cancer, and although there’s mixed findings the overall emphasis is that green tea can be incredibly beneficial. It certainly doesn’t do any harm to drink it, and with several studies showing that its antioxidant content can help reduce the occurrence of cancer it’s definitely worth trying.
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“Republished with permission from EatGreenTea.com, the original edible green tea.”