SAN DIEGO, April 8, 2008 (UPI) — A green tea anti-oxidant that helps stop cell damage and aging may inhibit breast cancer, U.S. researchers suggest.

University of Mississippi Medical Center researchers find the green tea anti-oxidant epigallocatechin-3- gallate, known as EGCG, significantly inhibits breast tumor growth in female mice.

Senior researcher, Dr. Jian-Wei Gu suggests EGCG reduces breast cancer by targeting both tumor blood vessel formation through the lowering of vascular endothelial growth factor and tumor cell nutrients that promote growth and proliferation, or angiogenesis.

"In this study we have demonstrated that the frequent ingestion of EGCG significantly inhibits breast tumor growth, vascular endothelial growth factor expression and tumor angiogenesis in mice," Gu says in a statement.

Seven-week old female mice injected with breast cancer cells and given EGCG in their drinking water showed significant decreases in tumor cross section area, tumor weight and vascular endothelial growth factor protein levels compared to control mice receiving regular drinking water during the five-week study. Vascular endothelial growth factor plasma levels were also lower in EGCG mice than in control mice.

Gu is presenting the team's findings at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society — part of the Experimental Biology 2008 conference in San Diego.