Tea and Coffee Can Damage DNA Just like Cancer Drugs

Natural materials believed to be safer for the body than chemicals. Materials like coffee and tea, it seems there are exceptions. One study found that the ingredients in these drinks can damage DNA as well as chemotherapy drugs.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center tested the effects of some foods and food flavorings in the laboratory. The results found that the cancer-protective gene called p53 is activated by compounds in black tea, green tea, coffee and some spices are used to add a smoky flavor to the meat.

In a report published the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, researchers found that food and drink can increase p53 activity up to 30-fold when added to the cells. This effect is comparable to the effects of chemotherapy drugs called etoposide in suppressing cancer-promoting genes.

"We found that when diluted liquid smoke is still as strong as a thousand-fold concentration of etoposide in cancer patients who were treated with etoposide. Fact, it works the same way. Etoposide damaging the patient's DNA, that's how you get rid of the cancer, but it also has side effects," said the researcher, Dr. Scott Kern as reported by Time Healthland, Sunday (03/31/2013).

P53 gene is stimulated when DNA is damaged and trigger a series of responses that attempt to repair DNA. The greater the damage to DNA, the more the levels of p53. Scientists have determined that high levels of p53 is a marker of stress on DNA.

In laboratory experiments, the cells were given black tea, green tea, coffee and spices liquid showed that p53 activity are struggling to repair DNA damage. While the results of testing with other flavorings such as taste fish sauce, oyster sauce, paprika, wasabi powder and kim chee did not show the same activity of p53.

Researchers believe the difference lies in some pirogalol chemicals such as acid and gallic acid that can damage DNA and activate p53. Pirogalol found in smoked foods, hair dye, tea, smoke cigarettes and coffee. While pirogalol gallic acid is a type most commonly found in coffee and tea.

However, Kern warned that the study does not advise people to stop drinking tea, coffee or spice flavorings, but called for more research. Some of the damage caused by these chemicals also may still be repaired by the p53 gene.