Antimutagenesis and Anticarcinogenesis

Cancer is a disease with an extremely high mortality rate. Even though there are many hypotheses on its causes, it boils down to the formation of mutated cells initiated by the various cancer-inducing factors, and because of further promotion by the intrinsic and extrinsic factors, these mutated cells are changed to precancer cells, and eventually develop into cancer cells. When a normal cell is changed to a cancer cell, it has to go through the initiation and promotion stages. Any compound that can inhibit the initiation or promotion can be viewed as having anticarcinogenesic properties. The effective components in tea leaf have inhibitory activities not only on the initiation but also on the promotion of cancer cell development.

In an epidemiological survey in Shizuoka-kan (Prefecture) of Japan, a negative correlation exists between tea drinking and stomach cancer. Numerous in vivo studies on mouse or rats were conducted in many countries on the prevention of various cancers with tea extracts or the effective components in tea (such as catechin-type compounds) and their inhibitory effects. Results indicate that tea to a certain degree has preventive and inhibitory effects on stomach cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, intestinal cancer, liver cancer, and skin cancer.

Summarizing the studies worldwide, tea drinking has the following eight benefits: (a) refreshing and wakening, elimination of tiredness and increase in energy, (b) diuretic, (c) lowering of blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels, (d) prevention of caries in teeth, (e) strengthening of the walls of blood vessels, (f) antibacterial effect, (g) antimuta-genesis and anticarcinogenesis, and (h) antiaging effect.

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