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Green Tea Compound Found to be Effective in Killing Mesothelioma Cells

Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant and its history dates back 5000 years. There is an old Chinese legend that says a man, Shien Non Shei, was walking one day when he curiously tasted the juices from a leaf of a plant and felt it had special medicinal properties and decided to create a drink by mixing it with water. In 1191, Zen priest Eisai wrote the book, Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea), which describes how drinking green tea can have a positive effect on the five vital organs and lists the tea's medicinal qualities.

For centuries Green tea has been used in the prevention and treatment of a long list of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. The majority of studies attempting to document these proclaimed health benefits have proved inconclusive due to individual lifestyle factors and variations in environment. However, the results of a recent study published in the February 23, 2013 issue of the medical journal Cancer Cell International reveal that a compound found in green tea is effective in killing mesothelioma cancer cells.

In the study, Japanese researchers sought to identify the effects of the polyphenol Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (“EGCG”), a potent antioxidant abundant in green tea, on malignant mesothelioma. Researchers administered varying doses of EGCG ranging between 10 µm to 500 µm on five human mesothelioma cell lines at intervals of 24 hours. Researchers demonstrated that EGCG caused cell death in all five cell lines by inducing reactive oxygen species (“ROS”) production, which impaired the mitochondrial membrane potential. Lower doses of EGCG actually protected the cells from ROS, but higher doses of EGCG promoted ROS within the mesothelioma cells causing apoptsis (cell death).

Chloroquine is a very potent drug used in the prevention of malaria, but has also been found to possess anti-tumor properties. Researchers applied chloroquine with the EGCG in an attempt to maximize EGCG’s potential and found that, when combined, autophagy (the breakdown of cellular components) was enhanced.

It should be recognized that the study involved direct delivery of EGCG to mesothelioma cancer cells—and did not attempt to determine the impact of drinking green tea on patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. However, the possibility of EGCG becoming an applied therapy along with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy grows as research continues.

The brand Green Tea Hydra boasts of containing the highest EGCG content per serving on the market at 265mg. Matcha Powder (powdered green tea) is said to contain more EGCG than regular dry leaf green tea. EGCG can also be found in green tea extract and in capsule form. There are even green tea patches which are claimed to provide the body with about 300mg of polyphenols per dose - the equivalent of about 30 cups of tea!

The proclaimed benefits of drinking green tea are endless – whiter teeth, cavity prevention, weight loss, clearer skin, lowering cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, prevention of diabetes and stroke – it is used as a stimulant, a diuretic, an astringent to control bleeding and help heal wounds - the list goes on.

However, EGCG can also inhibit the effects of some cancer treating drugs, so it is strongly advised to consult your doctor before beginning any self-administered therapies.