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More evidence brews about green tea's benefits: it may prevent oral cancer

Thursday, November 19, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: green tea, oral cancer, health news

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(NaturalNews) According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 35,720 new cases of oral and/or pharynx cancer will strike Americans this year. And, unfortunately, less than 50% of these people are expected to live for five years or more after diagnosis. However, scientists may have found a natural substance that can prevent these types of malignancies -- green tea.

Green tea is known to be rich in polyphenols, a type of phytonutrient shown to inhibit the development of cancer in many laboratory studies. The new research, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and just published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, is the first to test green tea as a cancer preventing agent in people who are at especially high risk for oral cancer because they have leukoplakia. A pre-malignant condition, oral leukoplakia is an area of whitish abnormal tissue that develops in the mouth or throat.

For the study, 41 oral leukoplakia patients at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center were divided into groups that received either an inactive placebo or a green tea extract taken orally for three months at low, medium, or high doses. In a statement to the press, the research team noted that the green tea extract was well tolerated even in the patients given the high doses and it produced no significant toxicity.

A baseline biopsy was taken when the study started and repeated as the study was underway. When the scientists checked the progression of the pre-malignant oral lesions, they found that almost 60% of patients taking the highest doses of green tea extract displayed a positive clinical response, compared with only 18.2% of those who were given the placebo. There was improved histology (the appearance of abnormal tissues when examined microscopically) and also a beneficial trend in biomarkers which are believed to be indicators of future cancer development.

"Collecting oral tissue biopsies was essential in that it allowed us to learn that not only did the green tea extract appear to have benefit for some patients, but we pointed to anti-angiogenic effects as a potential mechanism of action," Anne Tsao, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Thoracic, Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and the study's first author, said in a statement to the media. "While preliminary because our patient population was so small, this gives us direction for further study."

The research participants were followed for 27.5 months and at the time the study concluded, 15 had developed oral cancer. Overall, there was no difference in oral cancer development between those who took green tea and those who did not. So what was the benefit of taking the green tea extract? It took far longer for cancer to develop in the high risk patients who took green tea extract, strongly suggesting that the green tea was slowing the development of malignant cells. And that clearly raises the possibility that green tea extracts started earlier or used longer might have a stronger impact and prevent oral cancer.

"While still very early, and not definitive proof that green tea is an effective preventive agent, these results certainly encourage more study for patients at highest risk for oral cancer," Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Thoracic, Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and the study's senior author, said in the press statement.

As NaturalNews has previously reported, recent research has also suggested green tea may protect against blood and liver cancers (https://www.naturalnews.com/027379_green_tea_...). Scientists are finding evidence green tea could prevent prostate cancer, too (https://www.naturalnews.com/026872_Prostate_g...).

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