Green Tea Could Prevent Cancer, So Drink Up

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Have you heard the speculation that green tea prevents cancer? Although humans have been drinking tea for thousands of years, the beverage is a complex substance containing many active compounds that we don't fully understand scientifically just yet. But one more piece of the puzzle has been revealed, and it's good news: one component of green tea disrupts the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, shedding new light on possible cancer preventatives and treatments, and guiding further research.

Researchers from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute used new technologies to figure out exactly how green tea disrupts cancer, a finding that had been previously generated but not well understood. As reported in the journal Metabolomics, the team discovered that components in green tea disrupt the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells. In other words, the green tea compound interrupts the process by which the cancer cells feed themselves and use energy. They can be starved instead of physically destroyed.

The focus of the study, and the most interesting component found in green tea to date, is called EGCG (after a kind of polyphenol antioxidant named epigallocatechin-3-gallate). EGCG seems to cause cancer cells to progress along a normal lifespan and then die more in the way that non-cancer cells do, which is important because rapid proliferation and hardiness are what make cancer cells problematic in the first place. If cancer cells and cancerous tumors could be made to die rapidly without harming healthy cells, they'd do much less damage to surrounding body parts.

Even if green tea never yields any literal cancer cures, though, its other health benefits are well-established. As a good source of antioxidants and a relatively mild source of caffeine, you basically can't go wrong with a couple of (unsweetened) cups of green tea per day. That oddly-colored (only semi-green) liquid can also stabilize your blood sugar, promote brain health , and reduce stress. Apparently an ointment made from green tea can even treat genital warts (but don't try this at home). Choose fresh green teas instead of bottled green tea products for the most potency, and brew your green tea with cooler-than-boiling water so as not to damage any of its delicate active components.