The polyphenol compositions of green tea (GT) and black tea (BT) are very different due to post-harvest processing. GT contains higher concentrations of monomeric polyphenols, which affect numerous intracellular signaling pathways involved in prostate cancer (CaP) development. BT polymers, on the other hand, are poorly absorbed and are converted to phenolic acids by the colonic microflora. Therefore, after consumption of GT, higher concentrations of polyphenols are found in the circulation, whereas after BT consumption the phenolic acid levels in the circulation are higher. The majority of in vitro cell culture, in vivo animal, and clinical intervention studies examine the effects of extracts of GT or purified (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on prostate carcinogenesis. These studies provide strong evidence supporting a chemopreventive effect of GT, but results from epidemiological studies of GT consumption are mixed. While the evidence for a chemopreventive effect of BT is much weaker than the body of evidence with regard to GT, there are several animal BT intervention studies demonstrating inhibition of CaP growth. This article will review in detail the available epidemiological and human clinical studies, as well as animal and basic mechanistic studies on GT and BT supporting a chemopreventive role in CaP.
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