Researchers have found a component of green tea that may stop cancer by interfering with the way the disease invades cells and breaks down healthy tissue.
ECGC, a compound found in green tea, inhibits the activity of the enzyme urokinase, researchers report in today’s issue of the journal Nature. In cancer, urokinase helps dissolve the proteins in living cells, making room for the tumor and the blood vessels that feed it.
“If you stop this process, you are starving the tumor to death,” said Jerzy Jankun, a professor of urology at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo. He published the Nature paper with Medical College researchers Steven Selman and Rafal Swiercz, and Ewa Skrzypczak-Jankun of the University of Toledo.
The research lends credence to recent animal and human studies that suggest green tea prevents cancer of the esophagus, breast and prostate.
“I was really not a believer in these common sense or home remedies, but when I saw on my computer and I saw in my laboratory, I drank my first cup,” Jankun said.
A simple laboratory experiment confirmed that when ECGC was added to proteins in a test tube, urokinase couldn’t break them down.