Several in vitro studies have shown a dose-dependent decreased proliferation and/or increased apoptosis in a variety of cancer cell lines (lung, prostate, colon, stomach, oral, leukaemia and breast) (Berger et al 2001, Gupta et al 2003, Kavanagh et al 2001, Kinjo et al 2002, Pianetti et al 2002, Valcic et al 1996, Wang & Bachrach 2002, Yoo et al 2002, Zhang et al 2002). Additionally, photochemopreventative effects for green tea and epigallocatechin gallate have been demonstrated in vitro, in vivo and on human skin (Afaq et al 2003).

The mechanism of action by which tea polyphenols exert antimutagenic and antitumorigenic effects is still largely speculative. However, the following has been observed: inhibition of the large multicatalytic protease and metalloproteinases, which are involved in tumour survival and metastasis, respectively, and inhibition of many tumour-associated protein kinases, while not affecting kinase activity in normal cells (Kazi et al 2002, Wang & Bachrach 2002). Tea polyphenols have also been found to inhibit some cancer-related proteins that regulate DNA replication and transform- Green tea 656

ation. More recently, there Is Increasing evidence that catechins possess anti-angiogenic properties (Sachinidis & Hescheler 2002).

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