Saturday, March 09, 2013

Pu-erh tea and cancer prevention

I need to drink less coffee, but I’m sick and tired of tea.  So when a risk-free (as in no-cost free!) opportunity to try Numi Organic Pu-erh tea came my way, I’m thinking what’s to lose?  I was pleased by its rich and earthy flavor courtesy of a fermentation process during production--no weak sister green tea this stuff.  The bottom of my mug could not be seen when full of Cardamom Pu-erh. 
But what of these purported health benefits?  A visit to the NIH library at PubMed Central only strengthened the love; many Chinese researchers in multiple scholarly articles provided a slew scientific reasons to make mine Pu-erh in the a.m. 

The evidence was a regular alphabet soup of enzymes and genes and proteins favorably enhanced or suppressed by this brew and its metabolic byproducts of fermentation.  I’ll leave the anti-obesity praise to Dr. Oz who, incidentally, is looking downright anorectic to me.  Rather, consider some of the anti-tumor aspects of Pu-erh enumerated in an article(1) supported by grants from the“Scientific Puer Action” program.

If you remember the cell cycle from your intro to biology course, you know that actively dividing cells go through a three-step process wherein they grow, replicate their DNA and package it into chromosomes prior to splitting into two (hopefully) identical new cells.  If these orchestrated steps—G1, S, and G2—could be arrested in cancer cells but preserved in normal cells by a non-toxic, side-effect free substance, we would have the quintessence of cancer chemoprevention. 
Dr. Zhao and colleagues examined the effects of Pu-erh tea extracts on mouse tumor cell lines and control mouse embryo cells, and that is exactly what they demonstrated.  Essence of Pu-erh stopped the tumor cell cycle but did not affect the normal cells.  This effect was quite different than the anti-oxidant effects of unfermented green and black tea, suggesting that the molecular byproducts of its microorganism-based fermentation may be the origin of Pu-erh’s anti-cancer effect.

Well make mine Pu-erh!  Great flavor, way more nuanced and full-bodied than green, and stops tumor cell cycles dead in their tracks!

(1)    Zhao,L, et al.  Pu-erh Tea Inhibits Tumor Cell Growth by Down-Regulating Mutant p-53. Int J Mol Sci. 2011; 12(11): 7581–7593.


kenju said...

Where will you buy it? Do you know if any major chain store carries it?

Ruth said...

We have a great tea chain in Canada (also in USA) called David's Tea and they carry this. I am going to order some. Mind you, I never get tired of tea and my total fluid intake some days is tea, especially in the winter.

Ricky H said...

Interesting! I'll have to give this a shot. It seems that more and more we are discovering the health benefits of these simple, traditional foods. Who knows what we will find in the future?