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January 28, 1998

Cancer-Killing Compound

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JAMA. 1998;279(4):262. doi:10.1001/jama.279.4.262-JQU71030-4-1

A compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate found in green tea induces programmed cell death in cancer cells in vitro but leaves healthy cells unharmed, according to a new study.

In continuing studies of potential cancer-preventing compounds in green tea, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, examined the effect of epigallocatechin-3-gallate on cancerous skin, lymph, and prostate gland cells from humans and mice and on normal human skin cells. "We found that this particular compound, which is present in the amount of about 2 mg in a cup of green tea, can kill a variety of cancer cells through apoptosis without affecting the normal cells," said Hasan Mukhtar, PhD, professor of dermatology and senior author of the study in the December 17 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.