Thursday, 9 August 2007

Green Tea and Cancer: Advice from Dr. Pujari

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Seattle Times columnist, Dr. Astrid Pujari, answers an inquiry related to green tea and cancer in her most recent column. Pujari is a physician and a medical herbalist. A readers asks if green tea is helpful for breast cancer and it is ok to use decaffeinated green tea, or should she stick with regular.

Pujari answers:

Green tea has beneficial compounds called polyphenols, or catechins. Most of the research on green tea for breast cancer has been done in Asia because people there drink a lot of green tea. Green tea may help prevent breast cancer, based on one study in Asian women ...

Pujari cautions that these studies are population studies, meaning that although there may be an association between green tea and breast cancer prevention, it doesn't mean that the green tea is the cause.Pujari continues:

There certainly are a lot of good reasons to suspect that green tea might be helpful for cancer. First of all, the polyphenols are great antioxidants. They can protect DNA against things such as free radicals that can damage it and lead to cancer. Also, a specific catechin known as EGCG may prevent new blood vessels from feeding the cancer, and help trigger tumor cells to self-destruct. One study even found that green tea may enhance the effect of a chemotherapy drug, Adriamycin, which is used to treat some types of breast cancer.

Finally, Pujari notes that decaffeinated green tea only has half the antioxidant capacity of regular green tea.

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