Green tea
Scientists have unveiled the mechanism in green tea that helps it fight pancreatic cancer (Norio NAKAYAMA/Flickr)Norio NAKAYAMA/Flickr

A mechanism in green tea helps reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, claim scientists.

Green tea, a native to China, is made from a particular species of plant known as camellia sinensis. The beverage, packed with antioxidants, is one of the most popular drinks around the world.

Researchers Wai-Nang Lee and colleagues, from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, found that an active component found in green tea called EGCG inhibited the activity of LDHA, an enzyme that plays a major role in pancreatic cancer.

The component worked the same way as a known LDHA inhibitor oxamate, and made huge changes in the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells. EGCG achieved this by disrupting the balance of flux (rate of turnover of molecules through a metabolic pathway) in the cellular metabolic network, researchers stated.

"Scientists had believed they needed a molecular mechanism to treat cancer, but this study shows that they can change the metabolic system and have an impact on cancer," corresponding author of the study Lee, said in a news release. "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."

Green tea is made from unfermented leaves, and so it is high in polyphenols - a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants in green tea kill free radicals in the body, responsible for cancer and heart diseases.

Several studies have highlighted the health benefits of taking green tea regularly, particularly its ability to fight cardiovascular diseases or protect against cancer and Alzheimer's disease. However, the mechanism behind the occurrence has been a mystery.

Findings of the study have been reported in the journal Metabolomics.

Here are some health benefits associated with drinking green tea as provided by experts from the University of Maryland Medical Center in the US:

  • It can act as a stimulant
  • Green tea is a natural diuretic that helps remove excess fluid from the body
  • It is a strong astringent that helps heal wounds easily and manage bleeding
  • Blood sugar and body temperature management
  • Boosts mental health
  • Helps digestion and solves gas problems
  • Prevents atherosclerosis or the accumulation of plaque on the artery walls
  • Helps fight cancers of bladder, breast, ovary, lung, colon, skin, prostate and stomach
  • Helps keep cholesterol under control
  • Prevents type 1 diabetes
  • Helps shed excess weight
  • Treating gum diseases and genital warts