An antioxidant from the catechin family found in green tea increases levels of a natural anti-cancer protein that can repair DNA damage and destroy cancer cells. It also helps promote weight loss, lower cholesterol, prevents tooth decay and fights fatigue.
Drinking tea is never a bad idea. Drinking tea can help you lose weight and fight obesity. A meta-analysis published December 2, 2019, in the journal Physiotherapy Research found that green tea increases fat oxidation. Previous studies have shown that the antioxidant effects of polyphenols reduce cholesterol levels. Green tea also contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay. The high levels of caffeine and vitamin C in the drink are stimulants used to combat fatigue. Could it also have properties against cancer?
The p53 tumor suppressor protein, the most important in cancer
The anti-cancer effects of green tea are still being debated in the scientific community. Some believe that its consumption may interfere with certain drug treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, while others argue that green teas rich in catechins may reduce the proliferation of tumor cells. In a new study published February 12 in the journal Nature Communications, researchers suggested that an antioxidant found in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may increase levels of p53, a natural anti-cancer protein. Known as the “guardian of the genome,” it is able to repair DNA damage and destroy cancer cells.
“The p53 and EGCG molecules are extremely interesting,” says Chunyu Wang, professor of biological sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and author of the study. P53 mutations are present in more than 50 percent of human cancers, while EGCG is the main antioxidant in green tea, a popular drink around the world. “We have now discovered that there is an unknown direct interaction between the two that points to a new avenue for cancer drug development. Our work helps explain how EGCG is able to stimulate the anti-cancer activity of p53, which opens the door to the development of drugs with EGCG-like compounds.”
EGCG protects p53
The p53 protein, which Chunyu Wang calls “probably the most important protein in human cancer,” has several known anticancer functions. It enables the arrest of cell growth to allow DNA repair, the activation of DNA repair, and apoptosis, the initiation of programmed cell death when DNA damage cannot be repaired. One end of the protein, the N-terminus, has a flexible shape that allows it to adapt to the molecules it faces. EGCG is a natural antioxidant that helps repair damage caused by oxygen use in the metabolism. EGCG is abundant in green tea and is also sold in a supplement form.
Researchers have found that the interaction between EGCG and p53 prevents the protein from breaking down. After being produced in the body, p53 is rapidly degraded when the N-terminus domain interacts with a protein called MDM2. This regular cycle of production and degradation keeps p53 levels constant at a low level. “EGCG and MDM2 bind to the same site of the p53 protein at the N-terminus end, so EGCG competes with MDM2,” says the researcher. When EGCG binds to p53, the protein is no longer degraded by MDM2, so the level of p53 increases when it interacts directly with EGCG. This means that more p53 is available for the anti-cancer function.
Considering that EGCG is the main antioxidant in green tea drinking it may not be such a bad idea at least as a prophylactic to prevent cancer from taking place in the first place.