Green tea has become the miracle drink of recent years. It is mentioned as a cure for everything from stomach trouble to fatigue, from rheumatoid arthritis to tooth decay. People in the Far East have been turning to green tea for various ailments for centuries, so it isn’t surprising that the beverage has become a popular remedy worldwide.
Perhaps the most interesting claim of fans of green tea is that it can be beneficial in the war against cancer. A 1994 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that green tea lessened the risk of cancer of the esophagus in Chinese subjects by close to 60 percent. In addition, a study at the University of Purdue found that, because of its chemical makeup, green tea can also reduce the growth of cancer cells.
Green Tea’s Effects—More Than Skin-Deep
There is also evidence that green tea can be beneficial for your skin. In an article on “Green Tea and Skin” published in the Archives of Dermatology in the year 2000, Santosh K. Katiyar, Nihal Ahmad, and Hasan Mukhtar discussed how green tea could be effective in fighting skin cancer. Because of its composition, green tea can prevent inflammation and cancer in the skin.
Still, you might be wondering how this is possible. In the data examined by Katiyar, Ahmad, and Mukhtar, the polyphenolic compounds in green tea were tested and found to provide protection against cancer in mouse skin. In addition, some successful experiments were conducted on human skin in the lab. The analysis conducted by the authors shows that green tea polyphenols have cancer-fighting properties.
As a result, it appears that green tea could be used successfully in skin products to treat various skin disorders, which could help immensely in the battle against skin cancer. As Mukhtar stated, “Of all the antioxidants known to mankind, the components of green tea are the most potent.” Still, the authors caution that additional study is needed to fully explore the cancer-combating capabilities of green tea.
Why Green Tea is a Superior Disease-Fighter
Of course, you might be wondering why green tea might be effective against skin cancer, when other types of tea are not. While green, black, and oolong tea are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea is processed in a way that helps to preserve its antioxidant nature. That’s because green tea leaves are steamed, preventing their cancer-fighting compounds from being oxidized. As a result, black and oolong teas are not nearly as effective in fighting disease.
Taking a Closer Look at Green Tea
It might be helpful at this point to take a closer look at green tea and its unique properties. Dr. Stephen Hsu, a scientist at the Medical College of Georgia, has done extensive research on green tea and its medicinal effects. Hsu has found that the compounds in green tea known as polyphenols destroy free radicals, which have been known to give rise to cancer because of changes they make in DNA. Essentially, the polyphenols kill cancer cells, while protecting healthy cells.
Hsu and his research team compared the growth of normal skin cells to the growth of cells that had been exposed to green tea polyphenol. The researchers were surprised to learn that the tea component rejuvenated dying skin cells. The reactivation was limited to the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. Still, Hsu believes that the research will have a profound impact upon various skin conditions.
A Green-Tinged Fountain of Youth
In addition to combating cancer, green tea could be effective in treating a variety of other skin conditions, including ulcers, psoriasis, rosascea, and hard-to-heal wounds.
As a result of such research, some have referred to green tea as being a veritable “fountain of youth” for the skin. While additional research is obviously necessary, the initial results are incredibly encouraging. In fact, Hsu has been working on developing skin products in which green tea plays a significant role. In this way, Hsu has found a way to apply his lab work to the cosmetic counter. It appears that green tea is particularly effective in protecting the skin from sun damage—a major contributing factor to skin cancer.
The Future of Green Tea
Given the public’s interest in alternative medicine, it would appear that green tea will be increasingly used as an agent for enhancing health. In fact, each year people turn to green tea for its therapeutic benefits. Research on green tea’s beneficial effects on the skin appears to be particularly promising. In fact, green tea may be revolutionary in its impact on skin treatments. Not only might it lead to younger-looking skin—it may also help to keep skin cancer at bay—which would be welcome news to the fair-skinned and anyone who has a history of skin cancer in their family.