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Green tea: Health benefits as cancer preventive for humans



Green tea is an acknowledged cancer preventive in Japan. The aim of this review article is to develop the concept of cancer prevention with green tea beverage for humans, which has largely been our exclusive research territory. This paper briefly reviews several topics, beginning with the introduction of our initial work on penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose and (−)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the main constituent of green tea extract. The mechanisms of EGCG action, particularly the reduction of TNF-α are discussed, and we show how use of 3H-EGCG revealed a wide range of target organs for cancer prevention. The results of an epidemiological study in Saitama Prefecture allowed us to determine the cancer preventive amount of green tea—10 Japanese-size cups per day, about 2.5 g green tea extract—which made it possible for us to introduce the two-stage strategy of cancer prevention with green tea. The first stage is the delay of cancer onset for the general population. The second stage is the prevention of recurrence of cancer for patients following cancer treatment. Combination cancer prevention with green tea and cancer preventive drugs is proving especially beneficial for Japanese, who drink green tea every day. And finally, the stimulating comments of Prof. Jim Watson have encouraged green tea scientists. © 2005 The Japan Chemical Journal Forum and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Chem Rec 5: 119–132; 2005: Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI 10.1002/tcr.20039