A report published online on September 29, 2007 in the American Journal of Epidemiology described the finding of an association in Japanese men between drinking green tea and a reduced risk developing advanced prostate cancer.
Researchers at Japan’s National Cancer Center in Tokyo utilized data from the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study, which involved two cohorts enrolled in 1990 and 1993. The current analysis included a total of 49,920 men aged 40 to 69 upon enrollment who were followed until the end of 2004. Questionnaires completed by the cohorts after enrollment were analyzed for amount and frequency of green tea consumption, and participants were categorized according to their intake.
By the end of the follow up period there were 404 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed, of which 114 were advanced (having spread beyond the prostate), 271 localized (confined to the prostate), and 19 were of an undetermined stage. Although drinking green tea was not found to have an effect on localized prostate cancer, it was dose-dependently associated with a decrease in advanced prostate cancer risk. Men in the top category of green tea intake, who consumed five or more cups per day, had nearly half the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer compared with those who consumed less than one cup per day.
The study is the first, to the authors’ knowledge, to examine the association between green tea and prostate cancer according to stage, and to determine the protective benefit of green tea on advanced prostate cancer. They posit the induction of apoptosis, cell growth inhibition, and cell cycle progression arrest as mechanisms for green tea’s effects, and add that EGCG, a compound believed to be responsible for many of tea’s benefits, has been found to prevent tumor cell invasion as well as the expression of matrix metalloprotease, an enzyme which is overexpressed in angiogenesis
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