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Challenging the effectiveness of green tea in primary and tertiary cancer prevention

Abstract

Purpose

Drinking green tea daily is part of Japanese culture, and various studies have revealed that green tea is a cancer preventive. We here review our progress in cancer prevention with green tea on 12 main topics, from basic to clinical level.

Topics and methods

Biochemical and biological studies of green tea catechins, a prospective cohort study, preclinical safety trials with tablets of green tea extract, double-blind randomized clinical phase II prevention trial for recurrence of colorectal adenomas, and synergistically enhanced inhibition by the combination of green tea catechins and anticancer drugs. All results were significant, including human studies with informed consent.

Results

Drinking 10 Japanese-size cups of green tea per day delayed the cancer onset of humans 7 years for females. For tertiary cancer prevention, consuming 10 cups of green tea per day fortified by green tea tablets, 50 %, significantly prevented the recurrence of colorectal adenomas. A minimum effective amount of green tea catechins for cancer prevention was found in humans. In addition, the combination of green tea catechins and anticancer drugs engendered a new cancer therapeutic strategy.

Conclusion

The consumption of 10 Japanese-size cups of green tea per day is a significant factor in primary cancer prevention for the general population, and the preventive effect on recurrence of colorectal adenomas in patients is vital evidence in tertiary cancer prevention.

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Acknowledgments

To Prof. Erich Hecker, we express gratitude for his fruitful discussion. We thank Prof. Takuo Okuda for providing numerous polyphenols including (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and penta-O-galloyl-β-d-glucose (5GG), Prof. Takashi Sugimura for his encouragement during the course of this work, and our Japanese colleagues cited in our references for their research. This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: Scientific Research on Priority Areas for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan; Comprehensive Research on Aging and Health; and Cancer Research from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, Japan; Selective Applied and Developed Research, and Green Tea Extracts Research Development for Cancer Prevention by the Department of Agriculture and Forests and the Department of Health and Human Services of Saitama Prefecture, Japan; and the Smoking Research Fund.

Conflict of interest

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Hirota Fujiki.

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Fujiki, H., Imai, K., Nakachi, K. et al. Challenging the effectiveness of green tea in primary and tertiary cancer prevention. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 138, 1259–1270 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00432-012-1250-y

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Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Delayed cancer onset
  • GADD153
  • Green tea tablet
  • Phase II prevention trial
  • Prospective cohort study
  • TNF-α