New research shows that green tea inhibits cell proliferation and triggers autophagy and apoptosis (scientific terms that basically mean “self-destruct”) in oral cancer cells.
EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), the active compound in green tea, seems to promote the formation of reactive oxygen species in the mitochondria of cancer cells, which respond by producing more of the same. This results in damage to the mitochondria, triggering programmed cell death while leaving normal, healthy cells unaffected.
Similar findings have been found with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
According to researchers at the Cancer Institute in Tamil Nadu, India: “Oral cancer has a well characterized progression from premalignant oral epithelial changes to invasive cancer, making oral squamous cell carcinoma an optimal disease for chemoprevention interventions prior to malignant transformation... It is worthwhile to include green tea extract in an oral screening program for evaluating the premalignant lesions comparing the results between the treated and untreated group. Given the wide acceptance of green tea, its benefits may help in effective chemoprevention oral cancer.”
Tao L, Forester SC, Lambert JD. "The role of the mitochondrial oxidative stress in the cytotoxic effects of the green tea catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, in oral cells." Mol Nutr Food Res. 2014 Apr;58(4):665-76
Irimie AI, Braicu C, Zanoaga O, et al. "Epigallocatechin-3-gallate suppresses cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis and autophagy in oral cancer SSC-4 cells." Onco Targets Ther. 2015 Feb 20;8:461-70
Fang CY, Wu CC, Hsu HY, et al. "EGCG inhibits proliferation, invasiveness and tumor growth by up-regulation of adhesion molecules, suppression of gelatinases activity, and induction of apoptosis in nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells." Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Jan 23;16(2):2530-58