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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1999 Apr;220(4):244-8.

The prevention of lung cancer induced by a tobacco-specific carcinogen in rodents by green and black Tea.

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Division of Carcinogenesis and Molecular Epidemiology, American Health Foundation, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA.


A growing body of evidence from studies in laboratory animals indicates that green tea protects against cancer development at various organ sites. We have previously shown that green tea, administered as drinking water, inhibits lung tumor development in A/J mice treated with 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-l-butanone (NNK), a potent nicotine-derived lung carcinogen found in tobacco. The inhibitory effect of green tea has been attributed to its major polyphenolic compound, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and, to a lesser extent, to caffeine. We have also demonstrated that while levels of O6-methylguanine, a critical lesion in NNK lung tumorigenesis, were not affected in lung DNA. However, the levels of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG), a marker of oxidative DNA damage, were significantly suppressed in mice treated with green tea or EGCG. These studies underscore the importance of the antioxidant activity of green tea and EGCG for their inhibitory activity against lung tumorigenesis. Unlike green tea, the effect of black tea on carcinogenesis has been scarcely studied, even though the worldwide production and consumption of black tea far exceeds that of green tea. The oxidation products found in black tea, thearubigins and theaflavins, also possess antioxidant activity, suggesting that black tea may also inhibit NNK-induced lung tumorigenesis. Indeed, bioassays in A/J mice have shown that black tea given as drinking water retarded the development of lung cancer caused by NNK. However, data on the relationship of black tea consumption with the lung cancer risk in humans are limited and inconclusive. There is a need for additional tumor bioassays in animal models to better examine the protective role of black tea against lung cancer. The development of adenocarcinomas and adenosquamous carcinomas in F344 rats upon chronic administration of NNK provides an important and relevant model for lung carcinogenesis in smokers. Thus far, no information was previously available regarding the effects of tea on this model. We conducted a 2-year lifetime bioassay in F344 rats to determine whether black tea and caffeine are protective against lung tumorigenesis induced by NNK. Our studies in both mice and rats have generated important new data that support green and black tea and caffeine as potential preventive agents against lung cancer, suggesting that a closer examination of the roles of tea and caffeine on lung cancer in smokers may be warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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