How Green Tea May Thwart Lung Cancer

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A new study shows for the first time how a compound in green tea might work to suppress lung cancer.

A compound found in green tea, called EGCG, was already known to have anti-cancer properties. But researchers are still trying to figure out all the ways EGCG acts to suppress tumor growth.

The new study found EGCG raises levels of a molecule called mi-R210 inside lung cancer cells.

Cancer cells with higher levels of mi-R210 multiplied more slowly than lung cancer cells with lower levels, the study showed. In addition, cells with high mi-R210 levels lost the ability to grow on top of each other, a hallmark of cancer cells.

The study was conducted in cells in a dish, and more research is needed to determine if the same thing happens to cells inside the body.

Many laboratory studies suggest green tea may protect against cancer or slow cancer growth, but studies in humans have had mixed results, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Cancer rates tend to be lower in countries, such as Japan, where people drink more green tea, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM).

A 2010 Taiwanese study examined the smoking and tea drinking habits of more than 500 people, and found that the risk of lung cancer was 5 times higher in those who did not drink green tea. Among smokers , the risk was 12 times higher.

However, other studies have found drinking green tea or black tea increases the risk of lung cancer, UMM says.

The new study was published Sept. 28 in the journal Carcinogenesis.

Pass it on: A compound in green tea called EGCG may work to suppress lung cancer cell growth by increasing levels of mi-R210.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.