Natural Foods Merchandiser

Black Tea May Fight Certain Cancers

A recently released study found that drinking black tea may inhibit the growth of different cancers. Researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., discovered a chemical compound in black tea that destroys colorectal cancer cells without harming healthy cells, which could lead to the development of cancer-fighting medications.

In laboratory tests, the scientists added the black tea polyphenol, theaflavin-3'-monogallate, called TF-2, to both cancerous and normal colorectal cells. "The TF-2 compound apparently caused the cancer cells to commit suicide," Kuang Yu Chen, professor of chemistry and chemical biology, said in a presentation at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago in late August. "Their DNA was chopped into pieces and the cells died. But the compound had little or no effect on normal cells."

The polyphenol in black tea was also found to suppress a gene known as Cox 2 that is often associated with colon cancer. "We can't say that the Cox 2 gene directly causes cancer, but we can say that a high level of Cox 2 gene expression occurs in many cancer types," Chen said. "And Cox 2 has been considered an important pharmacological target in cancer treatment."

Previous tests at the Laboratory for Cancer Research at Rutgers' College of Pharmacy and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, also in New Brunswick, have shown that black tea extract is a powerful inhibitor of numerous cancers in animals, including skin, lung, colon, esophagus and mammary gland cancers. More recently, University of Arizona researchers discovered that drinking black tea with citrus peel reduced the risk of squamous cell carcinoma—a type of skin cancer—by 70 percent.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXII/number 11/p. 6

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