Green tea originated in China, but it has since become a very popular beverage throughout the world. Many claims have been made for the beneficial health effects of green tea, but only a few of them have actually been backed by scientific investigations. Green tea contains a myriad of enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, sterols, related compounds, phytochemicals, and dietary minerals which show great promise in fighting against cancer, cardiovascular diseases and glycemic control, but not many peer reviewed studies actually showed that green tea is effective against a specific type of cancer.
There have been previous studies which showed that epigallocatechin-3-gallate — EGCG — a compound found in green tea, killed oral cancer cells without harming normal cells, but the reason and mechanism through which this is done has not been understood. Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science and co-director of Penn State’s Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health believes he has found the answer to that mystery.
Earlier studies had shown that epigallocatechin-3-gallate — EGCG — a compound found in green tea, killed oral cancer cells without harming normal cells, but researchers did not understand the reasons for its ability to target the cancer cells, said Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science and co-director of Penn State's Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health. The current study shows that EGCG may trigger a process in the mitochondria that leads to cell death.
“EGCG is doing something to damage the mitochondria and that mitochondrial damage sets up a cycle causing more damage and it spirals out, until the cell undergoes programmed cell death,” said Lambert. “It looks like EGCG causes the formation of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells, which damages the mitochondria, and the mitochondria responds by making more reactive oxygen species.”
“So, it's turning off its mechanism of protection at the same time that EGCG is …
Perhaps combining ancient remedies with Western scientific advances is the way forward to finding an effective cure for cancer. Combrestatin – a cancer-fighting drug made from the bark of an African tree – is performing with dramatic effects in tests. The active ingredient extracted from the bark attacks the blood vessels that grow with tumors, while leaving normal blood vessels alone.
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