Green Tea Medicinal Extract & Cancer

The healthful properties of green tea are largely attributed to polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of chemical substances found in plants, and are generally divided into hydrolyzable tannins (gallic acid esters of glucose and other sugars) and phenylpropanoids, such as lignins, flavonoids, and condensed tannins.

The antioxidant effects of polyphenols appear to be greater than vitamin C. The polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most active polyphenol in green tea, and therefore the most studied.

Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline that provide green tea’s stimulant effects. L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green tea, has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.

Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage free radicals cause.

Clinical research has found that the growth of certain cancer cells is slowed by the consumption of EGCG in the form of green tea, and that this effect is immediate upon consumption. In addition to this effect, researchers believe that polyphenols can actually help kill cancerous cells as well as stop their proliferation.

For example, Polyphenols in green tea has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. In one study of 472 women with various stages of breast cancer, researchers found that women who consumed the most green tea experienced the least spread of cancer (particularly premenopausal women in the early stages of breast cancer). They study also found that women with early stages of the disease who drank at least 5 cups of tea every day before being diagnosed with cancer were less likely to suffer recurrences of the disease after completion of treatment.


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