In the study, hamsters were induced with colon cancer in two separate groups. One group, the control group, was given normal food. The other group was given food supplemented with green tea in varying amounts. The group given green tea had a lower incidence of colon tumors. The researchers also tried the experiment a second time replacing green tea with concentrated EGCg, the main compound found in green tea. The results in this case were similar, leading the researchers to believe that EGCg is the main colon cancer fighting component of green tea, although other catechins may also play some role in cancer prevention. It is important to note that EGCg is not present in significant amounts in black tea.
In this same study, the researchers then repeated the experiment using rats instead of hamsters and found similar results. The researchers believe this can be attributed to green tea’s ability to prevent improper reading of DNA, which is one of the major causes of cancer. Often, cancer forms as a result of this misreading, which may be caused by radiation or some other stress factor. When DNA is misread, this causes cancerous cells to be developed instead of normal cells. Green tea appears to reduce the incidence of misreading in the cells that make up the colon.
The researchers conducting this study state that a diet of 2% green tea is optimum for this type of effect.
An earlier report out of Japan from 1991 found similar results. Rats were induced with colon cancer and those who where given a small concentration of green tea in their daily intake of water (from 0.01 to 0.1 percent) had a lower incidence of colon tumors. While the rats who were not given green tea had a tumor incidence rate of 77.3 percent, those who were given green tea had a much lower tumor incidence rate of 38.1 to 47.6 percent. This further supports the findings of the Swiss study mentioned above.
Brewed Tea Versus Whole Leaves
Whole leaf green tea has far more catechins (the group of nutrients of which EGCg is the primary compound) than brewed green tea. In fact, whole leaf green tea has more than 10,000% more catechins than brewed green tea, according to a report by the USDA. Hence eating whole green tea leaves is an easy way to quickly boost the EGCg content in your daily diet. This is especially important since EGCg seems to be what gives green tea its colon cancer fighting properties.
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