Cancer is one of our country’s most frightening diseases. One million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and about 300 people will die from it each and every day. Scientists continue scrambling for understanding into what causes cancer, so that we can prevent it. In addition, work is ongoing to find effective ways of treating this disease.
In recent years, there have been quite a few studies on green tea and its cancer preventing characteristics. These studies are fueled by examination of Asian cultures, where green tea is part of everyday life, and where the incidences of heart disease, stroke and cancer are far lower than here in the US. Asian cultures have understood for many years that green tea is effective in slowing down the aging process and preventing and treating disease.
All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant; white tea, green tea and black tea all come from this same source. The differences are a result of how the tea is processed. Green and white tea is not fermented during processing, but black tea is fermented. This fermentation process chemically changes the natural anti-oxidants that tea contains.
While even after fermentation, tea is quite healthy; it is the anti-oxidants in their most natural form that seem to have the best anti-aging and disease fighting qualities. In particular, the catechins EGCG is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants you can consume.
Anti-oxidants are important to us because they combat free radicals that are naturally created by our body during the digestion process. These free radicals must be eliminated or they will damage our cells and our DNA. A deficiency in anti-oxidants allows these free radicals to rule, causing us to age more quickly and develop diseases like cancer and heart disease.
So, a diet rich in anti-oxidants has been shown effective in preventing cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of having a stroke. Doctors recommend that we eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables for their anti-oxidant effects; however, we are now learning that one of the best ways to get your daily dose of anti-oxidants is through drinking green tea.
As great as this news is for the prospects of preventing cancer, there is even more exciting news. There is evidence to suggest that not only might green tea prevent cancer, but might also be an effective treatment for cancer. Recent studies have shown that tea – green and black – appear to slow the progression of cancer cells.
This particular study was done on prostate and pancreatic cancer cells. The cells were treated in vitro with extracts from green and black tea. The cells were exposed to tea extracts for a period of 24 hours. The growth of the cancer cells was inhibited by as much as 90% during the period of exposure to the tea.
In addition to these exciting results, this study also suggested that green and black tea may inhibit the expression of the gene known as MDR-1. MDR-1 stands for multi-drug resistant gene. This gene expresses a drug resistant substance into the tumor cells that diminishes the effect that treatment has on the cells.
This study found that during the 24 hour period when the cells were exposed to the tea extracts, the amount of MDR-1 expressed by the cancer cells was decreased. This leads us to the conclusion that using green tea in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments may increase the effectiveness of the cancer drugs. There have been other studies, as well, that have indicated that cancer drugs are more effective when they are administered along with green tea.
Of course, as with many other findings, more research is needed before we fully understand the benefits that might be gained from using tea to prevent and treat cancer. Most importantly, many of these studies that have only been conducted on mice or in test tubes need human trials. Only then will we truly understand how lab findings might translate into real treatment and prevention options.
One thing’s for sure, though; there is no downside to incorporating tea into your diet. Green tea, in particular, is refreshing, healthy and filled with anti-oxidants. It is a healthier alternative to that morning cup of coffee, because it has a high anti-oxidant level and because it is significantly lower in caffeine than coffee.
Green tea is a wonderful way to help prevent aging and disease. Adding green tea to your diet is a simple and effective way to improve your health and chances of living to a ripe old age. As the research evolves, there’s no doubt that we’ll gain greater insight into exactly how green tea works and how we can best use its power. But, in the meantime, you can be assured that drinking green tea every day is a healthy habit.
Jon M. Stout is the Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. Golden Moon Tea carefully selects the finest rare and orthodox teas, which are processed slowly and handcrafted with extreme care. At their website, you can learn more about their current tea offerings, including their exceptional green tea , white tea, black tea, oolong tea (also known as wu-long and wu long tea ) and chai. Visit goldenmoontea.com for all details concerning the Golden Moon Tea Company's fine line of teas.