How Green Tea Helps Your Body Fight Cancer
When it comes to fighting cancer, there are two distinct approaches: Cancer Prevention and Cancer Treatment. Cancerous cells arise when the DNA of existing cells within the body experiences changes at the molecular level. Once the cellular DNA has changed, the altered cells either die off or begin to reproduce themselves. Preventing cancer requires an internal body environment that kills potentially malignant cells before they have a chance to reproduce. Cancer treatment actively works by slowing the rate of reproduction of cancer cells with the goal of killing them off.
Researchers are finding that drinking green tea works on both fronts. Long known as a way to prevent cancers from developing, recent research indicates that the health benefits of drinking green tea when it comes to cancer extend to fighting it as well.
Green Tea's Active Ingredients
Green, black, and oolong teas have quite different chemical properties. While all teas are chock full of anti-oxidants when compared to fresh foods and vegetables, the different types of teas are processed in different ways.
Black and oolong teas are crushed and fermented. Green teas are steamed and withered. All of them come from the same tea plant, but the different methods of processing create differences in the number and types of active ingredients.
Green tea is particularly rich in catechin polyphenols. Epicatechin gallate (ECg) is just one of this particular type of compound and is one of the most powerful cancer-fighting chemicals available. The truly amazing thing about this molecule is that it is broad spectrum, which means that it prevents and fights against many different types of cancers.
Cancer Prevention and Green Tea
The active ingredients in green teas work to prevent cancer through their strong anti-oxidant properties. When excessive oxidation occurs within the body, the basic structrure of the DNA is more likely to change. Oxidation occurs when there are two many free radicals. Free radicals are necessary to sustain life, but when there are too many of them in a region, these highly reactive compounds are capable of initiating a cancer-causing chain of events.
The anti-oxidant compounds in green tea, such as the catechin polyphenols, actually act as free radical scavengers. Research indicates that the polyphenols in green tea travel unchanged throughout the body and nullify potential threats when the concentration of free radicals is too high. When the body is in balance, these helpful compounds simply pass from the system.
Fighting Cancer with Green Tea
Recent evidence indicates that green tea does more than just prevent cancer. It may also slow the growth rate of cancerous cells and help to destroy it. How does this work?
When doctors examine tissue samples for signs of cancer, they look for abnormal cells and changes within the surrounding tissue. When signs of inflammation are present in the surrounding area, that's one signal that cancer might be present. The anti-oxidant chemicals within green tea work directly to reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
Recent studies in prostate cancer indicate that men with this slow-growing type of tumor who regularly drink green tea have significantly lower levels of two chemicals within their blood and urine samples. These are:
PSA, a chemical released by the prostate that is associated with the cancer when it exists at higher- than-normal levels, and
Nuclear factor-kappaB, associated with inflammation.
While this short-term study provided support for the hypothesis that green tea's health benefits include slowing the rate of cancer growth, further studies are needed to find out if green tea destroys cancerous growths.
Keep in mind that not all green teas are created the same. To effectively prevent and fight cancer, be sure that you choose varieties that are high in helpful compounds such as the catechin polyphenols. Drinking green tea gives your body the powerful resources to combat free radicals that cause many cancers.