Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Cancer remains a number-one killer in countries around the world. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that medical researchers are exploring new avenues in an effort to find ways to attack cancer.
The investigation into alternative cancer therapies often begins by examining the cultures of specific nations in an effort to determine whether diet or other customs could help unlock the secret to curing this dreaded disease. Since green tea has been a staple of the Japanese diet for centuries, it’s not surprising that new attention is being paid to the tea’s therapeutic benefits.
In recent years, doctors and scientific researchers have been focusing new attention on the idea of drinking green tea in an effort to keep cancer at bay. It’s been thought that the beverage possesses certain natural properties which make it a likely cancer preventative.
Studying Green Tea In-Depth
In order to look at this issue in more depth, researchers Kazue Imai, Kenji Suga, and Kei Nakachi of the Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute in Saitama, Japan, decided to examine the effects of green tea drinking among the Japanese. In an article entitled “Cancer-Preventive Effects of Drinking Green Tea Among a Japanese Population” in Preventative Medicine magazine, the research team explored the therapeutic benefits of green tea at length.
When the researchers began their investigation, there had been a number of studies indicating that the main ingredient of green tea, epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, was anti-carcinogenic. However, there was little evidence to suggest that EGCG could prevent cancer in human beings. While some human studies had been conducted, the results were far from conclusive.
The Japanese research team strongly believed that it was absolutely critical to conduct an in-depth study in an Asian nation, given the popularity of tea consumption in the Orient. Ultimately, the Japanese scientists found that those Japanese subjects who drank green tea were less likely to develop cancer. This was particularly true among women who consumed more than ten cups of green tea each day.
A Natural Cancer Prevention Tool
The rate of cancer was low among both men and women who consumed large amounts of green tea. In addition, a study of 384 cancer patients indicated that increased consumption of green tea was linked with a delay in the onset of cancer. Again, this phenomenon was most prevalent among women who consumed more than ten cups of green tea each day. The average delay for the onset of cancer was four years—four years of enhanced quality of life for the subjects involved.
To a Western mind, drinking ten cups of green tea daily can seem mind-boggling—especially if one has difficulty consuming eight glasses of water each day. It should be noted that, on average, the subjects were probably consuming 150 ml of green tea per cup. That would amount to about 300 to 400 milligrams of EGCG—a healthy amount, by any standard.
More Powerful Than Once Thought
It has become clear that green tea is far more powerful in fighting cancer than researchers once thought. For instance, scientists recently discovered that green tea’s unique chemical makeup enables it to combat one of the key cancer-causing molecules linked to tobacco use. The ground-breaking evidence appeared in a journal published by the American Chemical Society.
In the study, researchers examined the effects of two components of green tea, EGCG and epigallocatechin, also known as EGC. These substances are close to the consistency of cancer-preventing substances in red wine, grapes, broccoli, and cabbage. The research team discovered that EGCG and EGC can inhibit a molecule that often “turns on” genes that can be harmful to the body, leading to the development of cancer.
However, it’s unclear whether the results in the science lab could be replicated in a person’s home, since the effectiveness of drinking green tea depends on how the beverage is used by the human body. In addition, there appear to be differences between varieties of green tea, so additional study is necessary to prove the beverage’s effectiveness in inhibiting potentially harmful molecular processes.
The Need for More Research
Based upon the evidence presented in the study conducted by Imai, Suga, and Nakachi, there can be little doubt that their research indicates that consuming green tea can lead to the prevention of cancer. However, additional research is definitely needed in order to determine which organs of the body could best benefit from green tea.
In other words, will drinking green tea fight stomach cancer? Breast cancer? Colon cancer? At this point, the answers to these questions remain unclear. Yet, it should be noted that laboratory tests show that green tea’s EGCG can zero in on organs in an effort to prevent cancer.
The initial research into cancer prevention using green tea is incredibly encouraging. To begin with, green tea is an ordinary part of many people’s diets, so drinking the beverage does not necessarily mean a radical lifestyle change. If people are already accustomed to consuming green tea, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t mind consuming more of it, if it would mean preventing the occurrence of cancer.
A Virtually Problem-Free Solution
Some approaches to preventing cancer may seem initially appealing, but can become decidedly less so because of the side effects involved. However, there are no toxic effects linked to green tea consumption, meaning that this cancer-fighting remedy is especially promising.
In addition, green tea appears to be a powerful cancer prevention tool. If the beverage’s therapeutic effects were limited, there wouldn’t be a great deal of interest in using it as a cancer preventative. However, the strong link between green tea consumption and cancer prevention indicated by the Japanese study means that there is good reason for people to consider adding green tea to their diets.
Effects Beyond the Orient
Some might conclude that green tea drinking only prevents cancer among Asian populations, but researchers in the field believe that would be a mistake. It’s entirely possible that, if Westerners also made green tea a significant part of their daily diet, they would also see the preventative effects.
With so many supermarkets and convenience stores in the West now stocking green tea, it may be just a matter of time before Westerners will also experience the beverage’s medicinal benefits.
Jon M. Stout
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- Green Tea: The Japanese Secret to Good Health -- Jon Stout