Green tea research leads to gum and other products

abnormally high levels of ROS become damaged," he said. "If the level is very high, the cells will be killed. On the other hand, ROS is brought to background levels by EGCG in normal skin and salivary gland cells, suggesting a protective role of EGCG in normal cells."

Some methods of bolstering ROS are inadvertent; for instance, excessive sun exposure can increase ROS to the point of irreversible cell damage. Chronic exposure to carcinogens and certain drugs also can damage salivary gland cells.

Dr. Hsu and his colleagues found that when they added EGCG to cells, the polyphenols increased ROS levels in cancer cells but reduced them in healthy salivary gland and skin cells.

"All of our data indicate that EGCG can lower the ROS level [of healthy cells] and keep it low," Dr. Hsu said. "This is very exciting because perhaps we can use EGCG to protect healthy cells and prevent side effects from medications that impair salivary function and cause dry mouth."

For instance, oral cancer treatment can severely damage the salivary gland. "When this happens, the patient can no longer effectively secrete saliva and has a chronically dry mouth," Dr. Hsu said.

Dry mouth also affects some people without cancer, including fully 30 percent of the elderly, Dr. Hsu noted. The green tea gum not only protects the tissue but stimulates the salivary glands to produce more moisture.

Healthy people can chew the gum for preventive health, or just to enjoy a piece of gum, Dr. Hsu said, noting that the cost is comparable to that of regular gum. He suggests chewing a piece at least 15 minutes for optimal health benefits.

Mints and skin-care products will be on store shelves soon, he said, noting that fitness leader Denise Austin is creating a signature brand of green-tea skin care products and cosmetics for CCA Industries.


Contact: Christine Hurley Deriso
Medical College of Georgia

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