Tea May Protect
The Brain From Alzheimer's
An ingredient in green tea that researchers think might fight
cancer may also protect the brain from the memory-destroying
Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study released.
Scientists injected mice with an antioxidant from green tea
called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and said it decreased
production of beta-amyloid, a protein that forms the plaques that
clog the brains of Alzheimer's victims.
Several months of injections reduced plaque formation by as much
as 54 percent, researchers from the University of South Florida
wrote in the Journal of Neuroscience. The mice had been genetically
programmed to develop an Alzheimer's-like disease.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disorder that causes memory loss
and afflicts an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States
and millions more globally.
Drinking ordinary green tea may not lead to the same plaque reduction
seen in the study because other ingredients in the beverage appear
to block EGCG's benefits, said Dr. Jun Tan, the study's senior
author and director of the neuroimmunology laboratory at the Silver
Child Development Center in the University of South Florida's
Supplement pills containing EGCG might help, he said. Scientists
are also trying to develop a tea with a high concentration of
EGCG that could offer health benefits.
Other studies have shown EGCG may prevent certain cancers and
could block the spread of the HIV
virus that causes AIDS.
Humans would probably need 1,500 to 1,600 milligrams per day
of EGCG to get the amount that helped mice in the Alzheimer's
study, Tan said.
Researchers have tested the safety of those doses in people and
found no major side effects, he said.
The next step for researchers is to test an oral form of EGCG
in mice and see if it protects the animals' memory, he said. "If
those studies show clear cognitive benefits, we believe (human)
trials of EGCG to treat Alzheimer's disease would be warranted,"
The study was funded by the University of South Florida College
of Medicine Faculty Start-Up Funds, the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's
Center & Research Institute, the National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer's Association.
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