U study shows drinking tea might prevent skin cancer

Researchers found polyphenols, a chemical ingredient common in tea, can delay the process that turns normal cells into cancer cells.

Tricia Michel

Researchers at the University’s Hormel Institute helped discover a link between tea and skin cancer prevention.

A study released Friday by Hormel researchers and Rutgers University suggests an ingredient in green and black tea might help prevent skin cancer.

The work was funded by the Hormel Institute and a five-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found polyphenols, a chemical ingredient common in tea and red wine, can delay the process that turns normal cells into cancer cells.

Hormel Institute director Zigang Dong and a team of 16 researchers focused on the effects polyphenols in green and black tea had on human cells and mice.

Researchers shined ultraviolet light on the backs of shaved mice before infecting the rodents with a substance that promotes tumor growth. The experimental group was rubbed with polyphenol solutions while the control group received no treatment. Polyphenols used in the experimental group delayed cancer growth in the mice.

Hormel Institute researchers are hopeful they can develop a polyphenol cream that would delay or block ultraviolet light from damaging skin.

Hormel Institute research professor Ann Bode has studied cancer for more than 10 years and said she believes there is still a lot to be done.

“Cancer is a disease that touches everybody,” Bode said. “I’ve seen some very good progress with nutrition and cancer. It’s very encouraging.”

Dong said tea might help prevent or delay skin cancer in mice, but humansp would have to plan on gulping down between seven and 10 cups of strong tea per day to experience similar effects.

Stadium Village’s Espresso Royale offers 13 different flavors of black and green tea, and employee Brock Grubb said the coffee shop has steady tea sales.

“Everyone has known for a while that tea is better than coffee,” Grubb said.

Customer Alex Johnson said he drinks tea occasionally and is somewhat worried about skin cancer. He would opt to wear a lot of sun block and stay inside before he tried to tackle seven to 10 cups of tea.

“Everybody thinks that tea is always safe to drink and is good for you, but seven cups is very bad,” he said. “That would be a lot of bathroom breaks.”