Tea drinking is a millennia old practice that started as a delicacy that was consumed by aristocrats in China. Today, tea is the most popular beverage after water, with two-thirds of the world’s population enjoying it every day.
There are many different teas that provide a lot of health benefits, but green tea is the most beneficial one. It is prominently used in China and Japan because it has the ability to fight cancer. More specifically, the EGCG and other antioxidants in green tea stop the cancer cells from growing, and prevent the formation and growth of new blood vessels in the tumors.
Green tea antioxidants
The green tea contains certain antioxidants in the leaves which help the body in different ways. They also contain polyphenols known as catechins that are responsible for most of green tea’s health benefits. EGCG is the most prominent catechin in green tea, accounting for 75-80% of the catechin content. It is also the most effective catechin, and it underwent extensive testing in recent years in order to learn more about its cancer-fighting properties.
The results showed that the catechins in green tea are toxic to cancer cells in lab experiments, making the green tea a potential future cancer therapy.
EGCG stops the cancer cells from growing
When the body’s cells start growing out of control and die off, cancer cells form and create tumors which affect different parts of the body. The green tea antioxidants stop the cancer cells from growing in specific ways, and are responsible for at least some of the anti-cancer properties of green tea.
Here’s how the antioxidants prevent the cancer cells from growing:
- They lower the levels of a protein (cyclin D1), that is needed by cancer cells for proper growth. EGCG also blocks certain enzymes that helps the cancer cells keep their cell-cycle and helps them grow. Thanks to this, EGCG successfully blocks the growth of the cancer cells, which is usually permanent.
- EGCG increases the levels of other proteins that make the growth of cancer cells difficult.
EGCG kills cancer cells
Lab tests have confirmed that ECGC kills cancer cells by triggering “pro-death” proteins that causes the cells to commit suicide. A study showed that treating breast cancer cells with this antioxidant led to a high death rate that made the tumor shrink significantly. In simpler terms, the green tea antioxidants stop the cancer cell growth and kill the cancer cells effectively.
EGCG prevents formation and growth of new blood vessels in tumors
Angiogenesis is the process that forms new blood vessels in and around the tumor. This allows the cancer cells to grow and provides them with nutrients and oxygen. According to some studies, EGCG stops a growth factor that is needed for new blood vessels to grow in the tumor, resulting in prevention of cancer cell growth and spread from one to another location in the body. Another study showed that treating a tumor with green tea extract leaves it without much of the blood vessels.
Is green tea a proven cancer fighter?
The tests and studies showed that the green tea antioxidants can stop cancer cell growth, kill the cancer cells, and stop new blood vessels from forming in and around the tumor. EGCG achieves this by interfering with certain biological mechanism of the cancer cells without damaging the healthy cells. Due to this, experts believe that EGCG and other antioxidants are responsible for much of the green tea’s anti-cancer properties.
Most of the results were obtained in lab tests. Thanks to them, human clinical trials have been carried out to find out the efficiency of the green tea’s antioxidants. The results were not as clear as scientist had hoped, but they showed that two or three cups of green tea daily can lower the risk of cancer without any side-effects. Be aware that you need to consult with a doctor about consuming green tea if you are sensitive to caffeine or take some prescription medications. If you experience any kind of symptoms from green tea, stop consuming it and consult with a doctor right away.
It’s also important to know that although there are different commercial green tea products present on the market, they do not offer the same qualities of real green tea leaves. Lower amounts of tea leaves mean lower amounts of antioxidants and minimized health benefits of the green tea. Adding other liquids in the tea also reduce the health benefits, and decaf green tea contains only a minimal amount of the antioxidants.
The antioxidant capacity of the green tea depends on many factors – the type and quality of the green tea leaves, the quantity as well as the duration and temperature of brewing.
How to brew the perfect cup of green tea
The perfect cup is flavorful, not too bitter or weak. Here’s how to prepare it:
Use 2 gr. of green tea leaves on every 6 ounces of water. Organic green tea leaves are ideal. Use cold water, place it in a kettle, and heat it on 160-180 F. Put the leaves (or tea bag) in a cup, and pour the hot water over them. Alternatively, before you pour the water over the leaves, you can dampen them in the cup with a small amount of water at room temperature. Cover the cup with a lid, and allow it to steep from 1-3 minutes. If the leaves are small, they should infuse more quickly. Afterwards, remove the leaves and strain the tea. Enjoy the health benefits of the green tea!