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How green tea fights cancer, researchers have figured out the mechanism behind it

How green tea fights cancer, researchers have figured out the mechanism behind it

March 04, 2021
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In recent years, great attention has been given to the prevention of cancer through diet. Numerous studies have therefore focused on the active ingredients of various foods in order to demonstrate a possible anti-cancer action. Green tea has always been a favorite of scientists as a valuable source of a very powerful antioxidant substance, epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Previous studies had already brought to light the ability of green tea to counteract cellular degeneration, without however giving an exact explanation on the mechanisms with which this occurred. Today, thanks to a very recent scientific research, complete clarity has been made on this aspect and the process by which EGCG supports the protein p53, called the guardian of the genome, a tumor suppressor, has been observed. The research was published in the prestigious Nature Communication journal thanks to the work of a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York (Zhao et al, Nature Communications, Feb 2021).

In our body there is a protein, p53, also called the guardian of the genome. This somewhat high-sounding name derives from the fact that p53 is a powerful weapon against cancer. In fact, p53 can temporarily inhibit cell growth in the event of DNA damage to allow the mutation to be repaired, activates DNA repair and, if it is not possible to repair the damage, promotes apoptosis, namely the programmed death of the cell with degeneration. However, this protein easily degrades, losing its usefulness. And this is where epigallocatechin gallate comes into play. Thanks to modern imaging techniques, such as nuclear magnetic resonance, the study of the structure by sending light and X-rays but also computer simulations, the researchers led by Dr. Zhao were able to understand the interaction, all to our advantage, of EGCG with p53. EGCG is able indeed to inhibit the degradation of the p53 protein. In fact, p53 degrades when it interacts with another protein, MDM2. Epigallocatechin gallate actually competes with MDM2 as they attach to p53 in the same place. When epigallocatechin has the best p53 does not degrade but remains active. As a result, then, the p53 level rises and we have more p53 fighting for our health against cancer.

This research paves the way for possible uses of epigallocatechin gallate in the fight against cancer. For the moment, certainly a good choice can be to introduce, if we are not already doing it, green tea in our daily, varied and balanced, diet, in which many foods and drinks can work in synergy to guarantee health and well-being.

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