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Mechanistic findings of green tea as cancer preventive for humans.

Fujiki H; Suganuma M; Okabe S; Sueoka E; Suga K; Imai K; Nakachi K; Kimura S

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1999 Apr;220(4):225-8

Based on our initial work with green tea, in which repeated topical applications of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the main green tea polyphenol, inhibited tumor promotion in a two-stage carcinogenesis experiment on mouse skin (Phytother Res 1, 44-47, 1987), numerous scientists have since provided so much additional evidence of the benefits of drinking green tea that it is now an acknowledged cancer preventive in Japan, and will possibly soon be recognized as such in other countries. Our work has so far produced several important results with EGCG and green tea: a wide range of target organs in animal experiments for cancer prevention, wide bioavailability of 3H-EGCG in various organs of mice, delayed cancer onset of patients with a history of consuming over 10 cups of green tea per day, and absence of any severe adverse effects among volunteers who took 15 green tea tablets per day (2.25 g green tea extracts, 337.5 mg EGCG, and 135 mg caffeine) for 6 months. This paper introduces three new findings: 1) EGCG interacted with the phospholipid bilayer membrane resulting in confirmation of the sealing effect of EGCG; 2) EGCG inhibited TNF-alpha gene expression in the cells and TNF-alpha release from the cells; 3) high con-sumption of green tea was closely associated with decreased numbers of axillary lymph node metastases among premenopausal Stage I and II breast cancer patients, and with increased expression of progesterone and estrogen receptors among postmenopausal ones. These results provide new insights into our understanding of the mechanisms of action of tea polyphenols and green tea extract as a cancer preventive.

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