Tea: A Natural Cancer Treatment?

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One of the best remedies for cancer may be as close as your nearest tea cup. There is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that tea can help prevent the onset of cancer or, at the very least, slow the growth of tumors. This is incredibly encouraging news, given the fact that nearly two-thirds of the world's population drinks tea each day.

Nearly 80 percent of the tea consumed is in the black variety; green tea accounts for most of the rest, although about two percent of the world's residents drink oolong tea. Initial evidence indicates that both green tea and black tea may be helpful in the fight against cancer.

Black Tea and Green Tea as Cancer-Fighters

A study conducted at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology bears out the theory that green tea is more effective in combating cancer than other types of tea.

The research team extensively studied both green tea and black tea in order to determine their respective cancer-fighting properties. The experiment showed that both types of tea could help stop the cancerous mutation of cells.

The Japanese Experience

It stands to reason that there should be quite a bit of study into tea's anticarcinogenic effects on Japanese populations, since the Japanese consume a great deal of green tea. In their article, "Antimutagenic and Anticarcinogenic Activity of Tea Polyphenols," researchers Y. Kuroda and Y. Hara of the NationalInstitute of Genetics explore the ability of green tea to stop cell mutations and to fight cancer.

The Japanese research team noted that both green and black tea consist of chemicals known as polyphenols. These chemicals are
abbreviated as EC, ECG, EGC, EGCG, and TFs. The researchers found that Japanese residents who routinely drank green tea were
less likely to die of cancer.

Women in particular who participated in Japanese tea ceremonies had a surprisingly low rate of death from malignancies.

According to the researchers, polyphenols' ability to stop mutations has been shown in a number of animal tests. In addition, tea phenols appear to be effective in combating tumors in the digestive tract, the mammary glands, the lungs, and the skin.

Tea and Cancers of the Digestive Tract

Additional research has zeroed in on the effect of tea on cell mutations in the digestive system. One study, for instance, looked at the impact of green tea and black tea extracts on the gastrointestinal system. In this case, an in vitro gastrointestinal model was used which simulated the conditions found in a human digestive tract.

The study clearly showed the ability of both green tea and black tea to inhibit cell mutations. Interestingly enough, the mutation-fighting capabilities of the tea decreased when the tea was diluted with milk, whether the milk was whole milk, semi-skimmed milk, or skimmed milk.

In fact, both whole milk and skimmed milk eliminated the antimutagenic activity of green tea by more than 90 percent. The effect of semi-skimmed milk was a much lower 60 percent.

It appears that the reduced antimutagenic effect was tied to a decrease in antioxidant capability. In other words, the more antioxidants are present, the greater the ability of tea to fight mutations.

In addition, a decrease in the concentration of three chemicals in tea—catechin, epigallocatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin—led to a lessening of the mutation-fighting capacity of green tea and black tea.

Why Are Antioxidants So Important?

The antioxidants found in tea are critically important in tea's ability to prevent cancer. This is because of the effect that antioxidants have on what's known as free radicals, or molecules that have lost an electron.

These free radicals are dangerous because they can harm the DNA of cells, giving rise to cancer. Antioxidants can latch onto free radicals before those free radicals cause problems.

More Encouraging News About Green Tea

Researchers say there's evidence to suggest that green tea is an even better cancer blocker than was once thought. The chemicals in green tea appear to shut down a molecule which can be instrumental in the development of cancer. The molecule, which is referred to as an AH receptor, can lead to harmful gene activity. But researchers at Rochester University found that a pair of chemicals in green tea can stop disruptive AH activity.

The chemicals resemble those found in broccoli, cabbage, and grapes, which are considered to be foods that can also play a key role in the fight against cancer. The researchers say that green tea's chemicals appear to work through different pathways in stopping cancer.

Initially, the chemicals were found to stop destructive activity by the AH receptor in mouse cells. Now, it appears that the same phenomenon takes place in human cells. Yet, it should be noted that some varieties of green tea may be more effective than others in this regard.

More Study Needed

Yet, additional study is needed to determine how tea can be best utilized to fight cancer. As researchers point out, the causes of cancer are highly complex and may be the result of an interplay between hereditary factors and diet. Only through additional scientific research can medical authorities begin to understand the true value of tea as a cancer preventative.

About he Author:

Marcus Stout is President of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, green tea and wu long tea go to http://www.goldenmoontea.com

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