A new study on the beneficial effects of green tea on cancer cells has been done which could shift current studies to a wholly new perspective: working out how food components disrupt the metabolism of the cancer cells. A green tea component, the EGCG, interferes with the metabolic reactions of the cancer cells by inhibiting a critical enzyme needed for the process.
Green tea has long since been hailed as an extremely beneficial drink. Tea itself is the most popular drink consumed worldwide after water. Green tea, however, is the type of tea which has been more prominently associated with enormous health benefits, one of them being protection against pancreatic cancer, as a new study puts forward.
Components making up tea have the ability to affect cancer cells such that they are rendered powerless. The researchers view this as a positive discovery that could pave the way for new methodologies of prevention of cancer. Green tea’s component on which emphasis was laid in the study is the epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG. This component modifies the metabolic reactions of the cancerous cells found in the pancreas. It does so by interfering with the expression of an important enzyme specially needed for the cancer cells to thrive, the lactate dehydrogenase A. Many studies have, in the past, suggested that green tea is beneficial because of its desired effects on cancerous growths. A study even went so far as directly injecting EGCG into patients whose tumours went down by two-thirds in one month. However, the mechanism of how green tea works was not clearly understood. This new study shed light on the how.
Metabolism of a cell includes the chemical activities which sustain the life of the cell: activities including the generation of energy. Different activities work through different pathways whereby a set of chemicals work in concert. If crucial stages of the pathways are disrupted, the reactions are interrupted, and the cells do not survive. EGCG decreases the rate of turnover of the molecules in a metabolic pathway in the cancerous cells in the pancreas. It acts as an inhibitor of the critical enzyme which then leads to catastrophic effects for the cancer cells, to our own benefit.
This study shows that a way of tackling cancer may be to disrupt the metabolism of the unwanted cells so that they cannot sustain themselves to finally be destroyed. This opens the door to researches on other food components which could affect cancer cells by modifying their metabolism.