Green tea and skin--anticarcinogenic effects

J Invest Dermatol. 1994 Jan;102(1):3-7. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12371720.


Because of its special aroma, green tea is a popular beverage consumed by some human populations worldwide. In recent years, many laboratory studies have shown that in a variety of animal tumor bioassay systems the administration of green tea, specifically the polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea leaves (green tea polyphenols), affords protection against cancer induction. In mouse skin tumor bioassay systems, topical application of green tea polyphenols to skin has been shown to result in protection against a) 3-methylcholanthrene-induced skin tumorigenicity, b) 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin tumor initiation, c) 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and other tumor promoters caused tumor promotion in DMBA-initiated skin, and d) benzoyl peroxide- and 4-nitroquinoline N-oxide caused enhanced malignant progression of nonmalignant lesions. Green tea extract has also been shown to cause partial regression of established skin papillomas in mouse. Similarly, chronic oral feeding of green tea polyphenols or water extract of green tea has also been shown to result in the protection against both chemical carcinogen- and ultraviolet B radiation-induced skin tumorigenicity. Collectively these data suggest that green tea possesses significant chemopreventive effect against each stage of carcinogenesis, and that it may be useful against inflammatory responses associated with the exposure of skin to chemical tumor promoters as well as to solar radiation. Available data regarding the mechanism by which green tea affords these diversified effects is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatitis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Tea*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Tea
  • 9,10-Dimethyl-1,2-benzanthracene
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate