Cancer prevention by green tea: evidence from epidemiologic studies
Author: Jian-Min Yuan
In contrast to the consistent results of an inhibitory effect of green tea extracts and tea polyphenols on the development and growth of carcinogen-induced tumors in experimental animal models, results from human studies are mixed. Both observational and intervention studies have provided evidence in support of a protective role of green tea intake in the development of oral-digestive tract cancer or an inhibitory role of oral supplementation of green tea extract on a precancerous lesion of oral cavity. Evidence in support of green tea intake against the development of liver cancer risk is limited and inconsistent. An inverse association between green tea intake and lung cancer risk has been observed among never smokers but not among smokers. Although observational studies do not support a beneficial role of tea intake against the development of prostate cancer, several phase 2 clinical trials have shown an inhibitory effect of green tea extract against the progression of prostate premalignant lesions to malignant tumors. Prospective epidemiologic studies so far have not provided evidence for a protective effect of green tea consumption on breast cancer development. Current data neither confirm nor refute a definitive cancer-preventive role of green tea intake. Large randomized intervention trials on the efficacy of green tea polyphenols or extracts are required before a recommendation for green tea consumption for cancer prevention should be made.