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Green Tea Extracts May Protect You From Oral Cancer

green teaExtracts from green tea may prevent the formation of mouth cancers in people with risk signs of the disease, according to a new study from Texas. Over 50 percent of participants in the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center study experienced a clinical response to the green tea extracts.

Said lead researcher Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, MD.:

“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.

The extract's lack of toxicity is attractive -- in prevention trials, it's very important to remember that these are otherwise healthy individuals and we need to ensure that agents studied produce no harm. We need to further understand if green tea offers longer-term prevention effects for patients.”

Almost 60 percent of people taking the two highest doses of the green tea extracts had a clinical response.Just over 36 percent of people in the lowest extract dose group had a clinical response, compared to 18 percent in the placebo group, said the researchers.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

This latest study points out once again the powerful impact that natural remedies like green tea extract can have in the fight against cancer.

An estimated 28,500 cases of oral and oropharyngeal (the part of your throat just behind your mouth) cancers will be diagnosed in the United States in 2009, while 6,100 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

How Does Green Tea Help Fight Cancer?

While the biggest risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use and drinking alcohol -- about eight out of 10 people with this cancer use tobacco and seven out of 10 are heavy drinkers -- some people with oral cancer have no known risk factors.

Several studies have also found that poor nutrition, as in too few fruits and vegetables, was also linked to an increased risk of oral cancer.

But even among people with known risks of the disease -- the study followed 41 people with oral leukoplakia, a condition that is a sign of oral cancer risk -- green tea extract had powerful benefits.

In fact, over half of the participants were less likely to develop mouth cancer due to taking green teaextract.

Polyphenols in tea, whichinclude EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and many others, are protective against many types of cancer. For instance, women under 50 who drank three or more cups of tea a day had a 37 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer,and women who regularly drink five or more cups of green tea daily appear about 20 percent less likely to develop stomach cancer.

Other studies have also highlighted tea’s potential to fight skin cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer,and prostate cancer, and compelling evidence suggests that the polyphenols in green tea are even more effective at fighting the progression of cancer than the antioxidants found in red wine and grapes.

There are several primary ways that green tea, and also green tea extract, may help prevent cancer:

  • Green tea extract works by affecting actin remodeling, an event that allows cancer cells to move and invade nearby healthy tissue.

  • When a human moves, the muscles and skeletal structure function together to assist that movement. In order for cancer to grow and spread, the malignant cells must be able to move; this movement depends on actin remodeling.

  • Green tea extract makes the cancer cells more mature and joins them together more closely (a process referred to as cell adhesion).

  • Both the maturity of the cells, as well as the occurrence of adhesion, inhibits their mobility, thus hindering spreading.

Make Sure the Tea You Drink Isn’t Too Hot

Put plainly, the green tea extract may keep the cancer cells restricted and localized making the cancer easier to treat, not to mention providing a better prognosis.

Even with all of green tea’s cancer-fighting polyphenols, you need to make sure the temperature of the teais not canceling out its healthy benefits.

Drinking steaming hot tea has actually been linked with an increased risk of esophageal (food pipe) cancer.

Compared with drinking warm or lukewarm tea, drinking hot tea (65 to 69 degrees Celsius) was associatedwith twice the risk of esophageal cancer, and drinking very hot tea (70 degrees Celsius or more) was associated with an eight-fold increased risk.

A study nearly a decade ago found similarly that hot beverages raise your risk of esophageal cancer by as much as four times. This was particularly true when the beverage was consumed with a straw, which brings the very hot fluid directly to your esophagus.

To be clear, it is the temperature of the liquid that appears to be a problem here, not the beverage itself. So high-quality tea can continue to be a healthy beverage choice when drank at the right temperature.

How hot is too hot?

The negative effects appear to start right around 65 degrees C, which is 149 degrees F. The greatest risk came at temperatures over 70 degrees C, or 158 F. For comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F and simmers at about 190 F.

So your beverage does not have to be near the boiling point to do some damage to your throat.

So just be sure you let your tea cool off a bit or add a few ice cubes before you drink it, or alternatively drink it cold. Ideally, most of the fluid you drink should be at room temperature. The only exception would be if you were overheated and hyperthermic, in which case cold fluids would be beneficial.

How to ChooseHigh-Quality Tea

There are some general ground rules to follow when selecting tea of any kind, and those are that it should preferably be:

  • Organic (otherwise tea may be heavily sprayed with pesticides)

  • Grown in a pristine environment (tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea)

Further, one of the easiest signs to look for when evaluating a green tea’s quality is its color: if your green tea is actually brown, it’s likely been oxidized. When I drink green tea,I personally prefer Matcha tea, as the color is a vibrant bright green and it is far less processed and of much higher quality than most green teas.

Also, rather than being steeped and strained like typical tea, matcha tea is made of tea leaves ground into a powder, and the powder gets added right into the water. Because you are actually consuming the whole leaf, matcha tea is said to be one of the healthiest green teas out there.

My other favorite is Tulsi tea, which is a powerful adaptogenic herb that provides important therapeutic benefits.

My advice on which ones to choose? Listen to your body and drink those that appeal most to you.