Green tea kills oral cancer cells

Green tea kills oral cancer cells

Green tea kills oral cancer cells

A green tea ingredient may start a process that kills oral cancer cells, while leaving normal oral cells alone, according to research from Penn State.

Earlier studies have shown that ECGC, an ingredient in green tea kills oral cancer cells, but scientists didn’t know how it worked, said Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science and co-director of Penn State’s Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health. The study shows that ECGC jumpstarts a process in the mitochondria of cells that lead to cell death.

EGCG is doing something to damage the mitochondria and that mitochondrial damage sets up a cycle causing more damage and it spirals out, until the cell undergoes programmed cell death,” said Lambert. “It looks like EGCG causes the formation of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells, which damages the mitochondria, and the mitochondria responds by making more reactive oxygen species,” he added.

As this process happens, the defenses of the cancer cells are lowered as well.

So, it’s turning off its mechanism of protection at the same time that EGCG is causing this oxidative stress,” Lambert added.

Study shows that green tea kills oral cancer cells

The research team compared normal oral cells with cancerous oral cells to find how ECGC was affecting the cells.

We also took a lot of pictures, so we could use fluorescent dyes that measure mitochondrial function and oxidative stress and actually see these things develop,” said Lambert, who worked with Jong-Yung Park, a research technician and Ling Tao, a doctoral candidate in food science.

The researchers said that a protein called sirtuin 3 is key to the process.

It plays an important role in mitochondrial function and in anti-oxidant response in lots of tissues in the body, so the idea that EGCG might selectively affect the activity of sirtuin 3 in cancer cells — to turn it off — and in normal cells — to turn it on — is probably applicable in multiple kinds of cancers,” Lambert explained.

We’ve published one paper previously just looking at the effect of these green tea polyphenols on oral cancer cells in cultures, and there have been other papers published using oral cancer cells and at least a couple of animal model studies that have looked at oral cancer and prevention of oral cancer,” said Lambert.

The next step is to take these experiments from slides in labs, to testing on animals. If animal trials and human trials are successful, ECGC may lead to a treatment for oral cancer, without harmful side effects.

The problem with a lot of chemotherapy drugs — especially early 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.”

This study showing that green tea kills oral cancer cells was published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

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1. “Green Tea Ingredient May Target Protein to Kill Oral Cancer Cells.” Penn State. Penn State, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2015.

2. “Differential Prooxidative Effects of the Green Tea Polyphenol, (–)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, in Normal and Oral Cancer Cells Are Related to Differences in Sirtuin 3 Signaling.” Wiley Online Library. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 Feb. 2015.
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