The benefits of alternative medicine and some herbal remedies have been called into question by numerous studies in recent years. In fact, a number of herbal medications can cause serious side-effects including an increase in bleeding and interaction with prescription drugs used to treat hypertension. Fortunately, not all herbal remedies are harmful, and some are beneficial. Recent studies have shown that green tea can cause cell destruction in several types of tumor cells, including those that cause oral cancer.
Oral cancer accounts for about 3.6 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States, and is responsible for about 8,000 deaths each year. The disease most commonly affects the sides of the tongue, floor of the mouth (under the tongue), soft palate, lips and gums. Oral cancer will often appear as red, white or discolored patches or lumps, or as an ulcer that does not heal. Oral cancer tends to be more common in men than in women, and habits such as the consumption of alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco, as well as prolonged exposure to sunlight have all been identified as significant risk factors. Although the early stages of oral cancer are usually painless, later cases can cause chronic pain, numbness, and the inability for the mouth to function normally. Sadly, oral cancer has only a 50 percent five-year survival rate.
In a recent study, investigators used cultures of normal skin cells and oral cancer cells. The cells were exposed to green tea extracts and polyphenols (potent antioxidants) including the powerful polyphenol -- epigallocatechin-3. The green tea extracts and polyphenols destroyed the oral cancer cells, and epigallocatechin-3 significantly slowed the growth and invasion of these cells. These recent findings suggest that green tea and the antioxidants it contains may be used as effective anticancer drugs, including oral cancer. Future research may uncover more herbal medications and remedies that have important health benefits, perhaps as important as those in green tea.
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