Green tea research leads to gum and other products

The health benefits of green tea are finding their way into gum, mints, skin cream and other products with the help of a Medical College of Georgia cell biologist.

Dr. Stephen Hsu, a researcher in the MCG Schools of Dentistry and Graduate Studies whose work has revolutionized the understanding of green tea's healing and preventive properties, recently began an arrangement with New Jersey-based CCA Industries, Inc. to make those properties readily available in everyday products. The first of these products, Mega-T Green Tea Chewing Gum, is on store shelves now. Each piece of the mint-flavored, sugar-free gum equals two cups of green tea.

CCA Industries, Inc. is a public company listed in the American Stock Exchange under the stock symbol, CAW.

Dr. Hsu has been intrigued by the properties of green tea since observing that populations that drink green tea regularly have much lower cancer rates than populations that don't. His research helped determine that green tea polyphenols help eliminate free radicals, which can damage DNA and lead to cancer.

He further found that green tea-induced p57--a protein that helps regulate cell growth and differentiation--changes the behavior of healthy cells as polyphenols target cancer cells for destruction. This change of behavior protects the healthy cells.

Dr. Hsu discovered that the polyphenols activate two separate pathways, one for normal cells and one for cancer cells. The polyphenols serve as a sentinel, separating cells with p57 from cancer cells, which lack p57. He found that while the normal cells are shuttled to safety, the polyphenols destroy the mitochondria of cancer cells.

A National Cancer Institute grant is helping him determine the exact genetic behavior involved in this process. For instance, he has already found that a green tea polyphenol called EGCG increases reactive oxygen species, or ROS, a form of oxidative stress in oral cancer cells. "Cells with

Contact: Christine Hurley Deriso
Medical College of Georgia

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