The two sides of green tea extract: health benefits and liver damage risk

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A team of scientists from Rutgers University has unveiled new research that reveals both the potential health benefits and potential risks of long-term use of a high-dose green tea extract.

They discovered that this extract might provide protection against several serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

However, there’s a twist – it might also cause liver damage in some people. The good news? They identified two genetic variants that can predict who could be at risk. Let’s dig into the details.

Understanding the Power of Green Tea Extract

Many people worldwide enjoy a soothing cup of green tea. Its popularity isn’t just about its taste or the calm it provides – it’s also known for its health benefits.

The magic ingredient here is a type of antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that can help protect our bodies from damage.

Unraveling the Mystery through the Minnesota Green Tea Trial

The team at Rutgers based their research on a large study called the Minnesota Green Tea Trial. This trial focused on the effects of green tea on breast cancer and included more than 1,000 older women.

The research team followed the participants for a year, checking in on them every three months.

Why did the scientists choose this particular study? The Minnesota Green Tea Trial stood out because of its size and the unique group of participants it focused on.

Each participant consumed 843 milligrams of EGCG every day for a year, which is a substantial amount.

The Double-edged Sword: Health Benefits and Potential Liver Damage

The researchers specifically looked for signs of liver stress among the participants.

Why the liver? Your liver is like a processing plant for your body – it breaks down the substances you eat and drink so your body can use them. But if it gets overwhelmed, it can get damaged.

The researchers found that participants with certain genetic variations seemed more likely to show signs of liver stress. In other words, the green tea extract seemed to be causing problems in their livers.

The two genetic variations they identified are linked to the production of an enzyme that breaks down EGCG.

Women with one variation in a gene called catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) showed slightly more signs of liver damage than usual.

But the women with a variation in another gene, called uridine 5′-diphospho-glucuronosyltransferase 1A4 (UGT1A4), were at a higher risk.

Women with this high-risk UGT1A4 gene saw an enzyme that signals liver stress rise by almost 80% after nine months of consuming the green tea extract. Meanwhile, women with low-risk genes only saw a 30% increase.

But there’s a crucial detail here – the potential liver damage is only linked to high levels of green tea supplements, not drinking green tea, or taking lower doses of green tea extract.

And the full explanation isn’t only about these genetic variations – there are probably many other genetic and non-genetic factors at play.

Caring for Your Liver Health

So, what’s the takeaway? If you’re considering taking a high dose of green tea extract for its health benefits, it’s essential to also consider the potential risk to your liver health.

And as always, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Interested in more ways to protect your liver health? Recent research suggests that consuming dairy foods may be linked to a reduced risk of liver cancer.

If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re in luck – it may cut your risk of liver cancer in half.

Additionally, a new approach to treating alcohol-associated liver disease has recently been discovered, and a green Mediterranean diet could potentially reduce the risk of fatty liver disease by half.

The green tea extract study was led by Hamed Samavat and his team, and it’s published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.

The findings underscore the importance of personalized nutrition and understanding our unique genetic makeup when it comes to health and wellness.

So, the next time you sip on a cup of green tea, remember: it’s more than just a beverage, it’s a complex blend of bioactive compounds that can have far-reaching effects on our health.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about a diet that can treat fatty liver disease and obesity, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that an anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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