Pancreatic and prostate cancers pose serious problems to human health. To determine the potential for chemopreventive intervention against pancreatic and prostate cancers, black and green tea extracts and components of these extracts were examined in vitro for their effect on tumor cell growth. Components included a mixture of polyphenols from green tea (GTP), mixtures of polyphenols (BTP) and of theaflavins (MF) from black tea, and the purified components epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Two human cell lines, pancreatic adenocarcinoma (HPAC) and prostate tumor (LNCaP), were exposed to these agents for 24 hours. Results showed inhibition (approx 90%) of cell growth in pancreatic tumor cells by black and green tea extracts (0.02%). GTP (10 micrograms/ml) and MF (100 micrograms/ml) significantly inhibited growth (approx 90%); ECG and EGCG inhibited growth as well (approx 95%). Black and green tea extracts, GTP, and EGCG decreased the expression of the K-ras gene, as determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Green and black tea extracts decreased the multidrug-resistant gene (mdr-1), although GTP and EGCG increased expression. Similar data were obtained in the prostate cell line LNCaP. All agents significantly inhibited growth. These agents increased expression of the mdr-1 gene. This study suggests that components from black and green tea extracts can modulate the expression of genes known to play a role in the carcinogenesis process and, therefore, may be potential agents for chemoprevention against pancreatic cancer.