Green tea has been a popular herbal drink for over five thousand years, with the delicious brew coming from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. Many health benefits of the drink have been promoted, from it’s ability to aid in fat loss, to improving brain function. One large-sample study elderly Chinese individuals found that those who drank at least three cups of green tea a week reduced their likely of death within the next seven years by a whopping 25%.
A recent study of the potent plant has revealed a possibly game-changing property that has been undetected before now. An article posted in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications has reveled that the tea contains a particular antioxidant that may increase p53 levels while also improving it’s efficacy.
There is a gene called TP53 that is mutated in cancer cells, and is also the most commonly mutated gene. It’s a tumor suppressing gene, and researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York discovered that a specific compound in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) interacts with the P53 gene to increase production.
In an article posted to the university’s website, one of the researchers on the paper, Professor Chunyu Wang, said that:
“Both p53 and EGCG molecules are extremely interesting. Mutations in p53 are found in over 50% of human cancer, while EGCG is the major anti-oxidant in green tea, a popular beverage worldwide,” and that the P53 gene is “arguably the most important protein in human cancer.”
Professor Wang used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study how EGCG protects cell’s structures from degrading by binding to the P53 gene, allowing for the protein’s levels to increase which in turn results in more cancer fighting functions of the P53.
Due to the fact the P53 is often turned off when cancer cells are present, the discovery of EGCG’s ability to reactivate the protein could result in powerful cancer-fighting drug development. Curt Breneman, dean of the Rensselaer School of Science had this to say about the research performed by Professor Wang and his colleagues:
“By developing an understanding of the molecular-level mechanisms that control key biochemical interactions linked to devastating illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, Chunyu’s research is laying the groundwork for new and successful therapies.”