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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Environmental Health Note/Tea Sunscreen

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth's Diane Toomey reports on the anti-cancer effects of an ingredient in tea.


CURWOOD: Coming up: while almost no one was looking, Florida got stuck with what could become a massive pollution disaster. First, this Note on Environmental Health from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: Researchers from Rutgers University, working with scientists from the University of Minnesota, have found that substances in tea may help prevent skin cancer. Polyphenols, natural chemicals found in black and green tea, don’t block UV light, but it’s been found they can inhibit the process that turns a healthy cell into a cancerous one.

Researchers swabbed a group of mice with a solution containing polyphenols. Another group was left untreated. Then they shined UVB light, the ultraviolet light that causes skin cancer, on the shaven backs of all the mice.

UV light activates certain proteins that signal cells to divide and multiply. If cells multiply too fast or too long, cancer could result. The researchers found that the polyphenols inhibited the activity of these proteins, compared to proteins in the mice not treated with them. They also found the same effect when they applied the solution to cultured human skin cells.

The researchers presented their work at the meeting of the American Chemical Society and say they're in the early stage of developing a polyphenol-based cream that could supplement sunscreens currently in use.

That's this week's Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Terence Blanchard “Title Theme” 25th HOUR (Hollywood Records-2003)]



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