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[Cancer prevention with green tea: reality and wishful thinking]

Bertram B; Bartsch H

Wien Med Wochenschr 2002;152(5-6):153-8

Different processing of the leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis yields green or black tea, the subject of numerous investigations on the preventive effects on chronic degenerative diseases. The tea polyphenols, in particular (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) were found to account for most of the protective effects. Since the concentration of EGCG is 5 times higher in green than in black tea, it is assumed that green tea possesses a greater preventive potential. Protection against cancer and cardiovascular diseases are the most important biomedical effects. In experimental models the preventive activity of tea is well documented for tumors at many organ sites. In humans, tea was reported to be protective against tumors of the lung, the gastrointestinal tract and the liver. Tea polyphenols, especially EGCG, were shown to exert cancer-protective activity by the following mechanisms: they inhibit the metabolic activation of carcinogens and induce at the same time detoxifying enzymes. They inhibit signaling pathways controlling cell proliferation and tumor growth such as protein kinase C and the release of tumor necrose factor-alpha from cells. Tea polyphenols reactivate processes which are impaired in tumor cells, such as the programmed cell death and the tumorsuppressor gene p53. Finally, tea polyphenols can also block angiogenesis leading to a starvation of the tumor. By inactivation of proteolytic enzymes they inhibit the development of metastases. This short review summarizes relevant recent findings on the protective effects of green tea constituents.



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