While in Western countries, one in six men will be affected by prostate cancer during his lifetime, this cancer is much rarer in Asia. Studies suggest that the regular consumption of green tea by Asians could partly explain this difference.
We know that from the age of 40 years, almost a third of men already have microscopic tumors in their prostate. Even if these microtumors are harmless, they can nevertheless progress over the following decades and reach the stage of mature cancer which threatens survival.
Men are therefore constantly at risk of developing cancer of the prostate and one of the great challenges of research is to identify strategies that target these microtumors in order to prevent them from acquiring the characteristics necessary for their progression to the stage of cancer.
Half a cup of cruciferous vegetables per week decreases the risk of cancer by 45% of the prostate
Such a preventive approach is particularly important, because we now know that the progression of these microscopic tumors can be blocked by adopting good habits lifestyle, including a good diet, regular physical exercise and maintaining a normal weight.
A diet rich in anti-cancer plants such as vegetables and tomatoes seem to play a particularly crucial role: studies show that men who eat more than 1/2 serving of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) per week are at risk of prostate cancer 45 % lower than those who eat it less than once a month.
Similarly, for heavy consumers of tomatoes, this protective effect is approximately 25% (2). Changing the diet to include these foods rich in anti-cancer molecules therefore represents an extremely promising strategy for preventing the development of prostate cancer.
Green tea: its molecules block the development of prostate tumors
Even if studies show that a significant proportion of Asian men have microtumors at the level of the prostate, these men nevertheless have a much lower incidence of cancer of this organ.
In other words, Asians seem to have the same risk as Westerners of developing this cancer, but some aspects of their lifestyle ensure that microtumors do not evolve into mature cancer.
The abundant consumption of green tea by these men could explain this paradox; in fact, previous studies have shown that the administration of anti-cancer polyphenols in green tea to volunteers with early stage prostate cancer caused a significant reduction in tumor development.
Green tea improves life expectancy
More recently, researchers have proven that this effect chemopreventive was probably due to a polyphenol, EGCG, the main anti-cancer molecule in green tea. This molecule has the ability to block the function of the androgen receptor, a protein which is very often expressed in prostate cancer cells and which plays a crucial role in the progression of the disease.
The EGCG’s inhibitory effect on this protein could be particularly useful as a complement to the anti-hormonal approaches currently used for prostate cancers that have reached an advanced stage: indeed, when these aggressive tumors become resistant to hormone therapy, there is no There are few therapeutic possibilities and death can occur within a year. The effectiveness of EGCG in green tea against the androgen receptor could therefore prevent these tumors from progressing and thus improve the life expectancy of patients.
- Kirsh et al. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J. Natl. Cancer Institute; 99: 398-1209.
- Giovannucci E et al. A prospective study of tomato products, lycopene, and prostate cancer risk. J. Natl. Cancer Institute 391: 391- 398.
- Bettuzzi S. and para. Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study. Cancer Res. 45: 1234-45.
Siddiqui AI and para. Green tea polyphenol EGCG blunts androgen receptor function in prostate cancer. FASEB J; 25: 398-1207.
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