Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world reported to have multiple health benefits. Preventive and therapeutic benefits of tea polyphenols include enhanced general well being and anti-neoplastic effects. The pharmacologic action of tea is often attributed to various catechins present therein. Experiments conducted in cancer cell lines and animal models demonstrate that tea polyphenols protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress and altered immunity. Tea polyphenols modify various metabolic and signaling pathways in the regulation of proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis and therefore restrict clonal expansion of cancer cells. Tea polyphenols have been shown to reactivate tumor suppressors, block the unlimited replicative potential of cancer cells, and physically bind to nucleic acids involved in epigenetic alterations of gene regulation. Remarkable interest in green tea as a potential chemopreventive agent has been generated since recent epigenetic data showed that tea polyphenols have the potential to reverse epigenetic modifications which might otherwise be carcinogenic. Like green tea, black tea may also possess chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic potential; however, there is still not enough evidence available to make any conclusive statements. Here we present a brief description of tea polyphenols and discuss the findings of various in vitro and in vivo studies of the anticancer effects of tea polyphenols. Detailed discussion of various studies related to epigenetic changes caused by tea polyphenols leading to prevention of oncogenesis or cancer progression is included. Finally, we discuss on the scope and development of tea polyphenols in cancer prevention and therapy.
Keywords: Apoptosis, angiogenesis, cancer, epigenetics, green tea, tea catechins, metastasis, tea polyphenols, anti-neoplastic effects, catechins, cancer cell lines, oxidative stress, reactivate tumor suppressors, epigenetic alterations
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