Green tea and skin cancer: photoimmunology, angiogenesis and DNA repair

J Nutr Biochem. 2007 May;18(5):287-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2006.08.004. Epub 2006 Oct 17.


Human skin is constantly exposed to numerous noxious physical, chemical and environmental agents. Some of these agents directly or indirectly adversely affect the skin. Cutaneous overexposure to environmental solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation (290-400 nm) has a variety of adverse effects on human health, including the development of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Therefore, there is a need to develop measures or strategies, and nutritional components are increasingly being explored for this purpose. The polyphenols present in green tea (Camellia sinensis) have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including protection from UV carcinogenesis. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the major and most photoprotective polyphenolic component of green tea. In this review article, we have discussed the most recent investigations and mechanistic studies that define and support the photoprotective efficacy of green tea polyphenols (GTPs) against UV carcinogenesis. The oral administration of GTPs in drinking water or the topical application of EGCG prevents UVB-induced skin tumor development in mice, and this prevention is mediated through: (a) the induction of immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin (IL) 12; (b) IL-12-dependent DNA repair following nucleotide excision repair mechanism; (c) the inhibition of UV-induced immunosuppression through IL-12-dependent DNA repair; (d) the inhibition of angiogenic factors; and (e) the stimulation of cytotoxic T cells in a tumor microenvironment. New mechanistic information strongly supports and explains the chemopreventive activity of GTPs against photocarcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Repair / drug effects
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Tea*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • Interleukin-12