Green tea disturbs cancer cells

It’s nice to know how things work. If you know how a car engine works then you can get in there and fix it without spending fruitless hours searching for the buckle on the fan-belt. If you know how a ferret thinks then you are a better chance of persuading it to release its jaw grip on your nether regions. If you know what goes on inside mushrooms then you are less likely to munch into just any old fungus that you find growing in a field. Knowledge of how a thing works doesn’t change the thing; but it may change how you relate to it. Green tea for instance, is known to reduce the risk of developing some cancers and can even help with cancer. Now a new study has shown a mechanism by which green tea does this and the finding has some exciting implications.

The study involved analysis of how a component of green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) interacts with cancer cells and specifically a chemical called lactate dehydrogenase (LDHA).

LDHA is an enzyme that is essential for energy production within cells keeping them functional and allowing them to multiply. Specifically, LDHA converts pyruvate to lactate and oxidizes the reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide to NAD+. Several human cancers including pancreatic cancer show elevated expression of LDHA and because of its essential role in cancer metabolism, LDHA has been considered to be a potential target for cancer therapy.

Using state of the art metabolic analysis techniques these researchers found that human pancreatic cancer cells EGCG blocks LDHA and reduces lactate production, anaerobic glycolysis, glucose consumption and glycolytic rate.

In other words, EGCG disrupts the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells so they are no longer able to thrive and multiply. Additionally, EGCG was just as effective at this as oxamate, a known inhibitor of LDHA. According to these researchers this offers the potential to take cancer treatment inside the cancer cell to the level of metabolic interference.

It won’t change the taste of your cup of green tea but it might change the use of food in the prevention and slowing of cancer.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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