In countries such as Japan, where green tea is widely drunk, the incidence of lung cancer is lower than elsewhere, even though the smoking rates may be comparable. This strongly suggests that green tea can help prevent lung cancer, according to oncology researcher, Masami Suganuma.
A recent study into the side effects of drinking green tea followed 102 volunteers who drank 40 fluid ounces (five cups) of green tea daily (or took the equivalent amount of green tea extract supplements.) Several years later, the study showed that the smokers in the group developed lung cancer several years later than other people who drank less or no green tea.
Although the primary way to practice lung cancer prevention is by not smoking, it appears that green tea could help slow down or prevent lung cancer from developing.
Green Tea and Lung Cancer Prevention
Green tea comes from the camellia sinensis bush and the leaves are picked and steamed before they start to ferment and oxidize, as in black tea. This preserves the phytochemicals, ensuring a much higher level of antioxidants (catechins) in green tea.
Green tea may help prevent lung cancer along with other cancers as it contains several anti-carcinogenic substances. These include Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), Epicatechin, Epicatechin-3-sulfate and Epigallocatechin.
For a cell to become cancerous, it goes through a series of mutations in its DNA. Smoking appears to trigger this mutation process by causing oxidative damage to cell DNA. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free-radicals that can cause DNA damage, so it is likely that green tea helps prevent lung cancer at this early stage.
This conclusion is backed up by a study on smokers who drank four cups of green tea daily. Their urine was measured for the compound 8-hydroxydeoxyguanozine (8-OHdG) which shows how much oxidative damage has taken place in the body. The smokers who drank green tea had 30% less oxidative damage than the non-tea drinkers.
EGCG May Help Prevent Lung Cancer
Other ways that green tea helps prevent lung cancer is the presence of EGCG. This component appears to stop cancer cells from dividing, arresting the possibility of cancer progression. However, EGCG does not affect cell division of normal healthy cells. Another benefit of this wonder substance is that it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy in those undergoing treatment.
Nicotine is known to stimulate angiogenesis (the creation of new blood vessels) that are necessary for cancer to thrive and spread. Once again, the EGCG is green tea appears to halt nicotine-induced angiogenesis, another way that green tea supports lung cancer prevention.
With so many positive benefits from drinking four or more cups of green tea each day, it can only benefit your health. However, it is best to make your own green tea from tea bags as ready-to-drink green tea has very low levels of EGCG and catechins, reducing the effectiveness of green tea for lung cancer prevention.