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Green tea boosts production of detox enzymes, rendering cancerous chemicals harmless

PHILADELPHIA − Concentrated chemicals derived from green tea dramatically boosted production of a group of key detoxification enzymes in people with low levels of these beneficial proteins, according to researchers at Arizona Cancer Center.

These findings, published in the August issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggest that a green tea concentrate might help some people strengthen their metabolic defense against toxins capable of causing cancer.

In a study of 42 people, the concentrate − composed of chemicals known as green tea catechins in amounts equal to that found in 8-16 cups of green tea − boosted production of the enzymes, which belong to the glutathione S-transferase (GST) family, by as much as 80 percent in some participants.

GST enzymes are believed to be crucial to the bodys defense against cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins, according to the studys lead investigator, H.-H. Sherry Chow, Ph.D., a research associate professor at the University of Arizona. They modify the cancer-causing molecules that would otherwise damage cellular DNA, thus rendering them inert.

They actually convert known carcinogens to non-toxic chemicals, and studies have shown a correlation between deficient expression of these enzymes and increased risk of developing some cancers, Chow said.

Expression of this enzyme varies dramatically in people due to genetic variation and environmental factors, Chow added. Green tea catechins somehow increase gene expression of these enzymes, which can be an advantage to people with low levels to start with.

Green tea has long been of interest to researchers given studies that have shown populations in which it is often consumed, such as the Chinese and Japanese, generally have lower rates of cancer. To find out if green tea can protect against cancer, the NCI has sponsored a n
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
10-Aug-2007


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