Dentistry researchers study impact of green tea

cup of green tea

Can green tea fight head and neck cancer in smokers?

A study by UIC researchers wants to find out.

Green tea is made from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are heated after harvest to destroy enzymes that break down catechins, natural antioxidant substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.

Combined with the caffeine found in tea, catechins have been shown in animal models to be effective in preventing lung and other cancers.

Guy Adami and Joel Schwartz, associate professors of oral medicine and diagnostic sciences in the College of Dentistry, want to see if green tea can induce a protective process of cell death called apoptosis, which occurs when cells of a living organism are damaged — by carcinogens, for example.

The researchers will analyze RNA collected from cells in the mouth and cheek of study participants to determine, based on gene expression, the cell pathways that are regulated by moderate levels of green tea consumption.

To enroll in the study, subjects must be between the ages of 20 and 45; smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day; have smoked for at least five years; and willing to drink five cups of green tea each day.

In an earlier study, Schwartz discovered increased apoptosis in cells taken from the tongue of tobacco smokers after a month of exposure to the catechins from green tea.

“We believe the cathechins found in green tea are a possible daily preventative approach for head and neck cancers,” Adami said.

For more information about the study, call 312-355-4311 or e-mail

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Campus, Faculty, Research