Researchers Discover How Green Tea May Prevent Cancer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Green tea, long associated with good health, has new scientific evidence to back its claim.

Purdue University researchers Dorothy Morre and D. James Morre (pronounced MORE-aye) found that EGCg, a compound in green tea, inhibits an enzyme required for cancer cell growth and can kill cultured cancer cells with no ill effect on healthy cells.

The findings offer the first scientific evidence to explain precisely how this compound works within a cell to ward off cancer. The results will be presented Monday (12/14) at the 38th annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco.

"Our research shows that green tea leaves are rich in this anti-cancer compound, with concentrations high enough to induce anti-cancer effects in the body," says Dorothy Morre, professor of foods and nutrition in Purdue's School of Consumer and Family Sciences.

The findings suggest that drinking more than four cups of green tea a day could provide enough of the active compound to slow and prevent the growth of cancer cells, she says.

Although all teas come from the same botanical source, green tea differs from black tea or other teas because of the way the tea leaves are processed after they are picked. For black tea, freshly picked leaves are "withered" indoors and allowed to oxidize. With green tea, the leaves are not oxidized, but are steamed and parched to better preserve the natural active substances of the leaf.

Epidemiologists have found that people who drink more than four cups a day of green tea seem to have a lower overall risk of cancer, but scientists were unsure how the tea produced these effects.

Morre and her husband, who is the Dow Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Purdue, show in their independent study how green tea interacts with an enzyme on the surface of many types of cancer cells including breast, prostate, colon and neurobla

Contact: Susan Gaidos
Purdue University

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