When it comes to cancer treatments and research, scientists are typically looking for solutions at a molecular level. But a new study suggests investigating cancer cell metabolism could be even more effective. Specifically, this study demonstrated how green tea compounds work to fight cancer by interrupting the cancer cells’ ability to grow and flourish.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most frequently cited beneficial agent in green tea. For this study, published in Metabolomics, the researchers looked at the effects of the compound on pancreatic cancer cells.
According to the study, the EGCG works to change the metabolism of the cancer cells by suppressing the expression of LDHA (lactate dehydrogenase A), an enzyme critical for cancer metabolism and survival. While previous studies have linked green tea and EGCG to cancer treatments and prevention, none prior to this one had demonstrated how it worked.
“Using state-of-the-art metabolic profiling techniques, Dr. Lee and colleagues found EGCG disrupts the rate of turnover of molecules – known as “flux” – through a metabolic pathway in pancreatic cancer cells. They found EGCG disrupts metabolic flux in cancer cells in a similar way to oxamate, a known inhibitor of LDHA. They concluded that both EGCG and oxamate reduced the risk of cancer by suppressing the activity of LDHA, which in turn disrupts metabolic functions in cancer cells.”
As lead researcher Dr. Wai-Nang Lee of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute explains, this research is notable because it approaches cancer treatment from a whole new angle. Though of course this isn’t the only study to showcase the connection between green tea and cancer prevention. Another study, among many others, demonstrates how green tea can fight cancer cell growth by significantly reducing the number of lymphocytes.
“By explaining how green tea’s active component could prevent cancer, this study will open the door to a whole new area of cancer research and help us understand how other foods can prevent cancer or slow the growth of cancerous cells.”
Cancer metabolism, he says, is no longer an issue of simple “glucose goes in and energy goes out,” but a mechanism for potential cancer treatment and preventions.
Other work has found EGCG delivered intravenously was able to shrink or eliminate two-thirds of tumors tested. Previous research has connected green tea consumption to the reduced risk of digestive cancers in women as well.