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Green Tea For Your Health

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Drink green tea or chew green tea gum and you may avoid oral cancer, which kills more than 8,000 people in the United States each year. Researchers in the college have found that EGCG, a compound in green tea, may trigger a cycle that kills oral cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

“EGCG is doing something to damage mitochondria [in the cancer cell] and that mitochondrial damage sets up a cycle causing more damage, and it spirals out until the [cancer] cell undergoes programmed cell death,” said Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science.

The researchers exposed normal human oral cells and human oral cancer cells to EGCG at concentrations typically found in the saliva after chewing green tea gum. At various times, they checked for oxidative stress and signs of antioxidant response. They reported their results in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Lambert said the ultimate goal is to create anti-cancer treatments that are as effective as current treatments without the harmful side effects.“The problem with a lot of 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.”

—Matt Swayne