Green Tea Component May Protect Men from Prostate Cancer
As women, we’re faced with the cold hard facts regarding breast cancer risk. Experts say a given woman has a one-in-eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Those are some scary odds. The way I see it, we have two choices. Ignore these statistics and hope they go away, or take steps to reduce our own risk factors as much as possible. Most of us are accustomed to getting a mammogram, for instance, to boost early detection. And most of my readers realize that maintaining a health body weight and eating a healthful, whole foods diet, are two ways to reduce one’s overall risk.
At least we don’t have to worry about prostate cancer. But our sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers do, so we can’t really afford to ignore this threat, either. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer affecting men. In 2015 alone, experts expect 220,000 cases of prostate cancer will emerge. Statistically speaking, if a man lives long enough, his odds of being diagnosed with this form of cancer can climb alarmingly high.
So what can men do to reduce their risk? Until recently, most experts would probably have said “not much.” But new research suggests that a component of green tea may help to significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer among men who have already been diagnosed with premalignant lesions in the prostate. These pre-cancerous lesions took the form of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) or atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP).
Noting that prostate cancer is relatively uncommon among Asian men, researchers wondered if there might be something in the Asian diet that confers protection against prostate cancer. Specifically, they looked at green tea—which is known to contain potent antioxidant compounds called catechins. The most prevalent—and best studied—of these is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). It’s been credited with providing many of the health benefits attributed to green tea in the past. Laboratory and animal studies have repeatedly shown that EGCG inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
A recent intervention enrolled men diagnosed with precancerous prostate lesions. Some men took a green tea extract for one year, the other group received a placebo. Although results did not achieve statistical significance, investigators noted that lesions among men who took the extract did not progress towards a more cancer-like form as rapidly. Their levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA)—a biomarker for prostate health—also tended to drop more than among men who did not receive the extract.
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. "Component in green tea may help reduce prostate cancer in men at high risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2015. .