Green tea has protective effects against several types of cancer. A paper in the April issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology shows that a major antioxidant in green tea binds to a protein on the surface of tumor cells and slows their growth. These results improve our understanding of how antioxidants interact with cancer cells and have implications for the use of green tea as a dietary cancer treatment.
EGCG is a major antioxidant in green tea that may be active in protecting against cancer. To understand how EGCG achieves this effect, researchers led by Hirofumi Tachibana identified its target as the laminin receptor, a cell surface protein. When the researchers treated human lung cancer cells expressing the receptor with EGCG, the growth of the cells was significantly decreased. EGCG exerts its effect at concentrations equivalent to those in the body after drinking only two or three cups of tea. Many other chemicals in green tea, including caffeine, did not influence cancer cell growth. Identification of the direct target of EGCG may lead to further studies of its application in cancer prevention.
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(C) Nature Structural & Molecular Biology press release.
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