Green tea and its polyphenolic catechins: Medicinal uses in cancer and noncancer applications
Author: Nurulain T. Zaveri
Can drinking several cups of green tea a day keep the doctor away? This certainly seems so, given the popularity of this practice in East Asian culture and the increased interest in green tea in the Western world. Several epidemiological studies have shown beneficial effects of green tea in cancer, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. The health benefits associated with green tea consumption have also been corroborated in animal studies of cancer chemoprevention, hypercholesterolemia, artherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other aging-related disorders. However, the use of green tea as a cancer chemopreventive or for other health benefits has been confounded by the low oral bioavailability of its active polyphenolic catechins, particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most active catechin. This review summarizes the purported beneficial effects of green tea and EGCG in various animal models of human diseases. Dose-related differences in the effects of EGCG in cancer versus neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, as well as discrepancies between doses used in in vitro studies and achievable plasma understanding of the in vivo effects of green tea catechins in humans, before the use of green tea is widely adopted as health-promoting measure.