Green Tea and Skin Cancer

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There’s a growing market for alternative remedies and medicines in the United States; many of them based on Asian traditions and cultures — among them, green tea. One study at UAB in the last year has shown the beverage is a potent weapon in the fight against breast cancer, preventing the illness and killing cancer cells. Now, it appears green tea is just as effective in preventing another cancer.

UAB associate professor Dr. Santosh Katiyar authored the green tea and breast cancer study. He’s been working with the beverage for quite a while and has a new study out showing the tea could help prevent UV radiation-induced skin cancer.

Katiyar says the tea’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities help it prevent the creation of skin cancer cells; also, it appears to kill off some cancer cells once they’ve formed, similar to how it behaved with breast cancer. His findings were recently published by the American Society for Nutrition.

To get the preventive effects, Katiyar says a person at high risk for skin cancer (most notably Caucasians) should drink between five and six cups of green tea a day. That may be undoable for some and Katiyar says that’s okay. The anticarcinogenic properties of green tea are just as effective if the tea’s polyphenols are applied to the skin directly.

Epidemiological studies done of populations that consume large amounts of green tea seem to back up Katiyar’s findings. He says in one community in Japan, where green tea is manufactured, the residents have a low incidence of skin cancer and many other diseases as well. Up to this point Katiyary’s only studied green tea’s interaction with skin cancer in mice; he says he hopes to do studies of the tea’s reaction to skin cancer in humans in the near future.