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Cancer Sci. 2011 Feb;102(2):317-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2010.01805.x. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

New cancer treatment strategy using combination of green tea catechins and anticancer drugs.

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Research Institute for Clinical Oncology, Saitama Cancer Center, Saitama, Japan.


Green tea is now recognized as the most effective cancer preventive beverage. In one study, 10 Japanese-size cups of green tea daily supplemented with tablets of green tea extract limited the recurrence of colorectal polyps in humans to 50%. Thus, cancer patients who consume green tea and take anticancer drugs will have double prevention. We studied the effects of combining (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and anticancer drugs, focusing on inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis. Numerous anticancer drugs, such as tamoxifen, COX-2 inhibitors, and retinoids were used for the experiments, and the combination of EGCG and COX-2 inhibitors consistently induced the enhancement of apoptosis. To study the mechanism of the enhancement, we paid special attention to the enhanced expressions of DDIT3 (growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible 153, GADD153), GADD45A, and CDKN1A (p21/WAF1/CIP1) genes, based on our previous evidence that a combination of EGCG and sulindac specifically induced upregulated expression of GADD153 and p21 genes in PC-9 lung cancer cells. The synergistic enhancements of apoptosis and GADD153 gene expression in human non-small cell lung cancer cells by the combination of EGCG and celecoxib were mediated through the activation of the MAPK signaling pathway. This article reviews the synergistic enhancement of apoptosis, gene expression, and anticancer effects using various combinations of EGCG and anticancer drugs, including the combination of (-)-epicatechin (EC) and curcumin. Based on the evidence, we present a new concept: green tea catechins as synergists with anticancer drugs.

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