March 25, 2004

A team at the Medical College of Georgia’s department of Oral Biology studied the effects of the most abundant green tea polyphenol, EGCG, on human skin cells and found that EGCG reactivated dying skin cells.

“Cells that migrate toward the surface of the skin normally live about 28 days, and by day 20 they basically sit on the upper layer of the skin getting ready to die. But EGCG reactivates them. I was so surprised,” said Dr Stephen Hsu, study leader.

Dr Hsu was previously involved in work that found green tea polyphenols can help eliminate free radicals, which can cause cancer by altering DNA. He also found that polyphenols safeguard healthy cells while prompting cancer cells to die.

The researcher reports that green tea polyphenols are not absorbed beyond the epidermis (the outer layer), so any benefits are limited to that outer layer of skin. This is important because skin cells are in a constant state of renewal, rapidly dividing until they reach the epidermis, where they begin differentiating. But once they reach the surface of the skin, their metabolic activity slows dramatically and they prepare to die. EGCG seems to rejuvenate these skin cells however.

“When exposed to EGCG, the old cells found in the upper layers of the epidermis appear to start dividing again,” Dr Hsu said. “They make DNA and produce more energy. They are reactivated.” To read the full report go to Green Tea Prevents Skin Cancers.

Earlier, in 2001, The American Cancer Society, reported that green tea may prevent skin cancers. To read this report go to American Cancer Society Suggests Green Tea May Prevent Skin and Other Cancers.