According to the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the bone thinning condition known as osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women. Approximately 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis and another 34 million more have low bone mass, placing them at high risk for this disease. Of course, Big Pharma claims it has the solution — lots of prescription drugs (including the highly hyped Boniva, Fosamax and Reclast) that supposedly strengthen bones and treat osteoporosis. Unfortunately, these medications are loaded with potentially severe and even fatal side effects, including cancer and disintegration of bone in the jaw.
But now scientists have found a natural substance that could prevent and treat bone robbing osteoporosis without any side effects at all. A Hong Kong research team just published new evidence in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that green tea may help improve bone health. In fact, they’ve discovered green tea contains a group of chemicals that can stimulate bone formation and help slow its breakdown. The result, the researchers said in a statement to the media, is that green tea has the potential to help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases that affect millions throughout the world.
For their study, over the course of several days the scientists exposed a group of cultured bone-forming cells called osteoblasts to three types of natural chemicals found in green tea: epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GG). They found that one in particular, EGC, sent the activity of a key enzyme that promotes bone growth soaring by about 79 percent. EGC also significantly raised levels of bone mineralization in the cells, showing that the green tea component could strengthen bones. What’s more, the researchers also found that that high concentrations of EGC blocked the activity of osteoclasts, a type of cell which weakens and can break down bones.
Ping Chung Leung and colleagues point out in their study that a host of previous research has linked green tea to beneficial effects in preventing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. For example, we previously covered research showing green tea may prevent prostate cancer (Green Tea Prevents Prostate Cancer), leukemia and even Alzheimer’s disease .
And there’s even more good news about green tea from Japanese scientists,too. In a study just published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, scientists from Okayama University report that long-term consumption of about seven cups of green tea daily caused a reduction in the risk of death from heart disease by 75 percent and lowered the risk of colorectal cancer 31 percent.
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