Tea Antioxidants in Cancer Chemoprevention


Katiyar SK




J Cell Biochem Suppl


In recent years, the concept of cancer chemoprevention has matured greatly. Significant reversal or suppression of premalignancy in several sites by chemopreventive agents appears achievable. This article summarizes experimental data on chemopreventive effects of tea polyphenols in different tumor bioassay systems. Tea (Camellia sinensis) is cultivated in about 30 countries, and is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Three main commercial tea varieties–green, black, and oolong–are usually consumed, but most experimental studies demonstrating the antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects of tea have been conducted with water extract of green tea, or a polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea (GTP). The majority of these studies have been conducted in a mouse skin tumor model system where tea is fed either as water extract through drinking water, or as purified GTP. GTP has been shown to exhibit antimutagenic activity in vitro, and inhibit carcinogen- as well as UV-induced skin carcinogenesis in vivo. Tea consumption has also been shown to afford protection against chemical carcinogen-induced stomach, lung, esophagus, duodenum, pancreas, liver, breast, and colon carcinogenesis in specific bioassay models. Several epicatechin derivatives (polyphenols) present in green tea have been shown to possess anticarcinogenic activity; the most active is (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which is also the major constituent of GTP. The mechanisms of tea’s broad cancer chemopreventive effects are not completely understood. Several theories have been put forward, including inhibition of UV- and tumor promoter-induced ornithine decarboxylase, cyclo-oxygenase, and lipoxygenase activities, antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity; enhancement of antioxidant (glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and quinone reductase) and phase II (glutathione-S-transferase) enzyme activities; inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and anti-inflammatory activity. These properties of tea polyphenols make them effective chemopreventive agents against the initiation, promotion, and progression stages of multistage carcinogenesis.

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