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Green Tea May Help Prevent Certain Gastrointestinal Cancers

Green Tea May Help Prevent Certain Gastrointestinal Cancers

SAN FRANCISCO—Retrospective and laboratory studies have suggested that
green tea might be useful for both the prevention and treatment of cancer. Two
presentations at the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer
Research, however, showed conflicting results on the effectiveness of this
beverage as an anticarcinogenic agent.

While one study showed that drinking green tea is linked to a dramatically
reduced risk of developing certain gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, another study
found that drinking green tea did not have a therapeutic effect in men with
advanced prostate cancer.

In the epidemiological study, which used data from the Shanghai Cohort,
researchers found that men who frequently drank green tea were much less likely
to develop gastric and esophageal cancer, compared with men who drank this
beverage infrequently (abstract 2354).

The Shanghai Cohort consists of 18,244 men between the ages of 45 and 64 who
had no history of having cancer at study entry and who live in Shanghai, China.
Each subject was interviewed and provided a blood and urine sample at study
entry. The group has been followed for up to 12 years.

The Shanghai study compared baseline levels of two polyphenols found in
green tea, epigallocatechin (EGC) and epicatechin (EC), and their metabolites
in urine samples provided by 190 subjects who later developed gastric cancer,
42 who eventually developed esophageal cancer, and 772 controls who were
matched for age, date of sample collection, and neighborhood of residence.

"After excluding subjects with less than 4 years of follow-up, the
presence of EGC in the urine was related to an about 50% reduction in the risk
of developing gastric and esophageal cancer," said Can-Lan Sun, MD, a
researcher in the Department of Preventive Medicine, USC/Norris Comprehensive
Cancer Center, Los Angeles. No such association was noted for EC.

Dr. Sun noted that EGC is a more specific marker for green tea, while EC is
found in other commonly ingested foods and beverages such as apples, wine, and
chocolate.

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