A component found in green tea may be very effective at destroying oral cancer cells. The research from Penn State will become very useful in fighting oral cancer, as well as other types of cancer. Green tea, which has originated from China, is a very popular beverage throughout the world. Many claims have been made regarding the beneficial health effects of green tea. Green tea contains a myriad of enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, sterols, related compounds, phytochemicals, and dietary minerals which helps in fighting against cancer, cardiovascular diseases and glycemic control. Many peer reviewed studies showed that green tea is effective against a specific type of cancer.
Previous studies showed that epigallocatechin-3-gallate - EGCG - a compound found in green tea, killed oral cancer cells without harming normal cells. “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.”
Researchers grew the normal and cancer cells on petri dishes and then exposed them to EGCG, the major polyphenol found in green tea, at concentrations typically found in the saliva after consuming green tea. “It plays an important role in mitochondrial function and in anti-oxidant response in lots of tissues in the body, so the idea that EGCG might selectively affect the activity of sirtuin 3 in cancer cells to turn it off and in normal cells to turn it on is probably applicable in multiple kinds of cancers,” Lambert associate professor of food science and co-director of Penn State’s Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health said.
“The problem with a lot of chemotherapy drugs - especially early chemotherapy drugs - is that they really just target rapidly dividing cells, so cancer divides rapidly, but so do cells in your hair follicles and cells in your intestines, so you have a lot of side effects,” said Lambert. “But you don’t see these sorts of side effects with green tea consumption.”