It has tons of health and fat-burning benefits, but here's another reason you may want to cool off with iced green tea this summer.
Make Skin Cancer Kill Itself
Research has shown that the main catechin in green tea, EGCG, prevents the proliferation of leukocytes, which are white blood cells that sometimes indicate the onset of skin cancer. Furthermore, EGCG also induces cancerous skin cells to perform apoptosis, which is a technical word for cell suicide.
That means that green tea appears to not only prevent sun damage, but may actually reverse it. It's also possible green tea, like aspirin, may even afford some protection against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
How Much Green Tea?
Most experts think you need between 250 to 400 mg. of green tea extract (containing the four main green tea polyphenols) to possibly protect yourself against sun damage. You can get that from a cup of green tea, which contains an average of 253 mg. of catechins.
However, some scientists say that it's one particular green tea catechin, EGCG, that's performing all the magic, and the average cup of green tea only contains about 50 milligrams. (And some store brands, like the Diet Snapple version of green tea, according to the New York Times, contains zero EGCG!)
Clearly, science is unsure of the perfect dosage, and it's even more problematical given that cups of green tea (and different varieties and even different crops of the same type) vary enormously in their catechin content.
My advice would be to take a standardized green tea supplement (250 to 400 mg. per day), or hack your cup of green tea by boiling loose leaves for four minutes. This should multiply catechin content by up to 3,4, or 5 times. If you already use Superfood, note that it also contains a good amount of EGCG.
If you're stuck with bags of green tea leaves, steep the hell out of them. Let them sit for 5 to 6 minutes, and if you like milk with your tea, don't add it until the tea has stopped steeping.
Alternately, you could just drink multiple cups (2-4) of normally brewed, potentially weak-ass green tea. Even that may be too daunting, but look at it this way: If you can't have three or four cups, one or two is better than nothing and, depending on the strength of the blend, may even give you what you need.
- Vayalil PK, Mittal A, Hara Y, Elmets CA, Katiyar SK., "Green tea polyphenols prevent ultraviolet light-induced oxidative damage and matrix metalloproteinases expression in mouse skin." J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Jun;122(6):1480-7.
- Ahmad N, Feyes DK, Nieminen AL, Agarwal R, Mukhtar H. "Green tea constituent epigallocatechin-3-gallate and induction to apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human carcinoma cells." J Natl Cancer Inst 1997 Dec 17;89(24):1881-6.