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Green tea prevents prostate cancer in humans

A study by two Italian universities suggested that green tea catechins help prevent prostate cancer in humans.

The team, from the University of Parma and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said only one man in a group of 32 at high risk for prostate cancer developed the disease after one-year's oral administration of green tea catechins. In a control group, 9 of 30 high-risk men developed the disease.

"Numerous earlier studies, including ours, have demonstrated that green tea catechins, or pure EGCG (a major component of green tea catechins), inhibited cancer cell growth in laboratory models," said lead researcher Dr. Saverio Bettuzzi. "We wanted to conduct a clinical trial to find out whether catechins could prevent cancer in men. The answer clearly is yes."

Dr. Bettuzzi said his team found EGCG targets prostate cancer cells specifically for death, without damaging the benign controls. "EGCG induced death in cancer cells, not normal cells, inducing Clusterin expression" said Bettuzzi.

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. More than 230,000 American men are diagnosed with this disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease claims the lives of more than 30,000 men in the United States annually, making it the second largest cancer killer in men.

The researchers presented their results April 2005 in Anaheim, Calif., during the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Saverio Bettuzzi, Ph.D., associate professor, biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Parma, Italy; Jay Brooks, M.D., chairman, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Clinic Foundation Hospital, New Orleans; April 19, 2005, presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, 96th annual meeting, Anaheim, Calif.

Key concepts: green tea catechins, EGCG, prostate cancer