Could Some of Our Favorite Flavorings Be Damaging Our DNA?

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Plants are all-natural sources of all things good for us, right? It turns out some of our favorite plant-based flavorings may do more harm than good.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology that teas, coffees and “smoky flavoring” could be damaging our DNA at levels comparable to that caused by chemotherapy drugs.

The food chemistry and biology researchers tested the effects of some popular foods and food flavorings on cell cultures in the lab and discovered that a well-known repair gene called p53 that protects cells from becoming cancerous, was highly activated by compounds in black and green teas, coffee and liquid smoke flavoring, which is used to add smokey flavor to sausages and meat substitutes. The foods caused a 30 fold increase in p53 activity when they were added to the cells, which is comparable to the effect that the chemotherapy drug etoposide can have on the cancer-suppressing gene.

p53 is stimulated when DNA is damaged, and the gene triggers a series of responses that attempt to repair the affected DNA. The greater the damage to the DNA, the more p53 becomes activated, and researchers have come to view p53 levels as a marker for DNA in distress. To measure the p53 activity, the researchers tagged the gene in a bunch of human cells to a fluorescent marker that would glow when the gene was activated, and then added diluted amounts of the foods and flavorings. They let the cultures sit for 18 hours. Cultures with the black and green teas, coffee and liquid smoke all began to glow, indicating that p53 was hard at work doing damage control. Tests with other flavorings, including fish and oyster sauces, smoked paprika, wasabi powder and kim chee, didn’t activate p53 to the same levels.

(MORE: How Exercise Can Change Your DNA)

It turns out that these foods and flavorings share in common some chemicals — pyrogallol and gallic acid — that the researchers believe are responsible for damaging the DNA and setting off p53. Pyrogallol is found in smoked foods as well as hair dye, tea, cigarette smoke, and coffee. Gallic acid is a type of pyrogallol and is primarily found in coffees and teas. It’s not clear how these agents act on DNA, but the harm is concerning enough to raise the alarm for p53 to swoop in and attempt to right the genetic wrongs.

Previous studies have documented similar DNA damage from liquid smoke on the stomach lining in rats, but whether it has the same effect on humans isn’t known. On human cells, at least, the effect was striking. “We found that liquid smoke, when diluted a thousand fold, was still as strong as the concentration of etoposide in a cancer patient being treated with etoposide. In fact, it works much the same way. Etoposide in cancer patients damages DNA, that’s how you get rid of the cancers, but it also has side effects,” says study author Dr. Scott Kern, the Kovler Professor of Oncology and Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Why would plants harbor such potentially damaging agents? It’s possible they help to protect them, primarily from herbivores looking for their next meal. “Plants have been trying to keep animals from eating them for a long time. The plants make poisons, and animals develop defense mechanisms to take on the poisons. They have done this to such a great extent that some of these initial poisons can be considered nutrients and just food,” says Kern.

(MORE: Junk DNA — Not So Useless After All)

Which means that their ability to cause changes in DNA isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. “When you find something damaging in food, you can’t overreact. You have to think, is this one we could be made to handle normally, or is this one that should worry us? In this report, we don’t know the answer to that question,” he says. Some of the aberrations caused by these plant-based chemicals may be ones that p53 is perfectly capable of fixing, for example, although more research is needed to determine how extensive the damage is, and what effect those aberrations may have on our health. “There’s no doubt our body tries to repair [the damage]. It might do a very good job of it. So if we found the signature was a really weak one, I would worry a lot less,” says Kern. “It means we can repair this damage really easily. If the signature, however, involves big deletions of DNA or some structural DNA lesions it leaves behind, then we could look for these calling cards in diseases [such as cancer].”

In the meantime, the researchers are not suggesting that people stop drinking tea or coffee or enjoying smoky-flavored foods. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. Kern, who enjoys cooking himself, has switched to using a smoky scotch to flavor some of his foods.

77 comments
inachu
inachu

We will never advance as a society on the DNA level because human kind will forever damage its DNA via chemical in foods and in industry plants but its not just that. as w hole I think maybe we have reversed ourselves and we will become as apes again because of other things like incest no matter how far off your cousin is connected to you.  A healthy blood line is a person from small villages and whos society does not accept incest as a viable soloution to procreation.    


Get rid of poisons and incest then I think our species as a whole can then finally advance/evolve to something better.

DanielMcBane
DanielMcBane

I'm not sure the conclusion they are drawing from these results are necessarily accurate. Just because the P53 genes are being stimulated, doesn't have to mean they are doing so in response to damaged DNA. Maybe the tea and other substances simply increase P53 activity and perhaps that activity even serves to improve our DNA. A lot of studies, like this one by the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/tea) have suggested that tea actually helps prevent cancer. More information on the health benefits of drinking tea can be found at: http://www.letsdrinktea.com/health-benefits/

andi15
andi15

This is a very informative article and I love sweet tea but, I will now take this information into consideration. Are there any side effects to your DNA being damaged? And if so what are they?

punkakes13
punkakes13

i think whenever someone is thinking about reproducion, it should be a 1 yer preparation, i mean

in theory

like, os detoxication

like, dieting

and exercizing

etc

cause u gotta bring ur best


punkakes13
punkakes13

thank god i quit smoking its been more than a month.and i almost dont drink coffe nowadays ha but i like coffee

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

The author is incorrect. Gallic acid and thus tea and coffee protect DNA. 

"Gallic acid, a predominant polyphenol, has been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis in animal models and in vitro cancerous cell lines. The inhibitory effect of gallic acid on cancer cell growth is mediated via the modulation of genes which encodes for cell cycle, metastasis, angiogenesis and apoptosis. Gallic acid inhibits activation of NF-κB and Akt signaling pathways along with the activity of COX, ribonucleotide reductase and GSH. Moreover, gallic acid activates ATM kinase signaling pathways to prevent the processes of carcinogenesis. The data so far available, both from in vivo and in vitro studies, indicate that this dietary polyphenol could be promising agent in the field of cancer chemoprevention."

"Gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid, GA) is a constituent of plant derived foods, beverages and herbal remedies. We investigated its DNAprotective properties in a placebo controlled human intervention trial in single cell gel electrophoresis experiments. Supplementation of drinking water with GA (12.8 mg/person/d) for three days led to a significant reduction of DNA migration attributable to oxidised pyrimidines (endonuclease III sensitive sites) and oxidised purines (formamidopyrimidine glycosylase sensitive sites) in lymphocytes of healthy individuals by 75% and 64% respectively. Also DNA damage caused by treatment of the cells with reactive oxygen species (ROS) was reduced after GA consumption (by 41%). These effects were paralleled by an increase of the activities of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathion-S-transferase-π) and a decrease of intracellular ROS concentrations in lymphocytes, while no alterations of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), of malondialdehyde levels in serum and of the urinary excretion of isoprostanes were found. Experiments with rats showed that GA reduces oxidatively damaged DNA in lymphocytes, liver, colon and lungs and protects these organs against γ-irradiation-induced strand breaks and formation of oxidatively damaged DNA-bases. Furthermore, the number of radiation-induced preneoplastic hepatic foci was decreased by 43% after oral administration of the phenolic. Since we did not find alterations of the TAC in plasma and lipid peroxidation of cell membranes but intracellular effects it is likely that the antioxidant properties of GA seen in vivo are not due to direct scavenging of radicals but rather to indirect mechanisms (e.g. protection against ROS via activation of transcription factors). As the amount of GA used in the intervention trial is similar to the daily intake in Middle Europe (18 mg/person/day), our findings indicate that it may contribute to prevention of formation of oxidatively damaged DNA in humans"
.



RoyAlleyne
RoyAlleyne

Could it be by  setting off p53, its a case of the dog barking? and thereby repairing DNA damage that might have been missed by the body's  defense against cell damage, we know that coffee and tea consumption reduces  mouth and liver cancers.

midwest88
midwest88

It's now legal for Monsanto to genetically mess with our food supply and they now have judicial immunity.  We must all be vigilant to what environmental effects are potentially hazardous.

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

The article is much about nothing. The articles shows how quickly the body uses the good in the food and protects against the bad. The real problems are It's the Food chemicals 


When will we expose the true culprits...Fake Sweeteners Splenda,  Equal and Sweet and Low are poisons that cause obesity but the FDA  is silent about this. Food chemicals make us fat and sick, soda is not the cause of our health problems. Many Flavorings are more artificial crap. Go natural  See Here http://type2diabetesdietplan.blogspot.com/2013/02/can-diabetic-eat-sugar-why-it-is-only.html


zombieskinnermom
zombieskinnermom

And don't even get me started on the colorings, preservatives & other chemicals put into our food supply. These colorings have been proven to cause hyper behavior by children. They may be part of why so many people are being born with autism. Sad times. Wish our politicians believed in the right God-cause their policies-taking from the poor so the rich can get more-not Godly behavior. Nor is polluting the Earth you say you believe God created. Why then would you frack & allow nuclear plants when the sun & wind could give us all we need. NO, that would hurt big oil. Legal marijuana-NO cause the pharmaceutical companies don't want that wonder drug available. There goes the pill sales for sleep, anxiety, nausea, lack of hunger, epilepsy, glaucoma, etc. Sick of this corporate takeover of our country. Not helping our fellow Americans is down-right un-American. 

zombieskinnermom
zombieskinnermom

I'd like to know why our government is allowing BPA to line our canned foods-which I no longer buy because BPA damages DNA with double breaks (unrepairable). BPA is banned in Canada & Europe because it leeches into the food & it mimics estrogen-female estrogen, causing men to have smaller penises and girls are developing more quickly. Also, the use of styrofoam needs to be banned-as it also is in Europe & Canada- because they know it is very bad for human consumption. Our Congress is so addicted to money from lobbyists, like the Koch brothers, who make the styrofoam & BPA to line cans with. They are billionaires who are fighting to hurt low-income people. They care nothing of our health-remember the Republicans fought to keep pink slime (dogfood) in our ground beef! Thank goodness I am a vegetarian!

DavisJimmy
DavisJimmy

I drink beet juice and    P-red

DavisJimmy
DavisJimmy

She probably is better in bed than writing.

SileSkelley
SileSkelley like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

P53 does not swoop in and correct genetic wrongs. It is not an endonuclease, ligase, polymerase, or other repair enzyme. It is part of the individual cell's emergency response. It is the last ditch effort to save surrounding cells from harm by terminating itself.

In the actual journal article you will find that these human cell lines are in culture and the concentration of these suspect chemicals required to induce bioluminescence in recombinant p53 genes is far in excess of equivalent actual human consumption. This study does little more than to prove that isolated molecules in great excess may induce cellular changes resulting in an SOS response. Science Journalism is weak at Time.

Full disclosure: I'm a molecular geneticist.

SileSkelley
SileSkelley like.author.displayName 1 Like

P53 is the gene that controls apoptosis (aka programmed cell death). It's the gene that kills off cancerous cells.

Avior
Avior

Maybe these foods and flavorings just give this p53 gene a kick in the ass to get it back to doing its job. I'm no scientist, and i can't tell if she is trying to say these foods and flavorings damage the dna, or just trigger p53 go out and look for trouble.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

Why is this massively botched, incorrect article a headline on CNN and published at all by TIME? Oh wait TIME WARNER is the most inept media outlet in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE including the MARVEL UNIVERSE and DC COMICS UNIVERSE plus BIZARRO alternate universe. 

zerianis10
zerianis10 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm call bull on this, to be blunt and honest here. If there is any cellular damage, it's probably comparable to what you get from eating red meat that has been cooked and numerous other things.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

@zerianis10 TIME basically said "don't eat plants because their healthy antioxidants might give you cancer". They also said "TIME is the dumbest publication in the entire Universe" and maybe they'll say "SPAM is the healthiest food on the planet AS LONG AND YOU DON'T EAT ANY VEGETABLES".

clemdane
clemdane like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I thought they recently announced that green tea and coffee protect against cancer as well as heart disease?

nobotee
nobotee like.author.displayName 1 Like

As byrondelaney and others have stated below, copious clinical and scientific evidence demonstrates quite conclusively that the chemical constituents of green and black teas, particularly gallic acid, have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Moreover, there is no credible scientific evidence that even suggests gallic acid causes cancer or damages DNA in any way. 

Accordingly, for the author of this article to suggest that P53 activation in the presence of gallic acid is somehow causally connected to gallic acid damaging DNA is illogical, fallacious and irresponsible in the extreme. 

This article is the very definition of junk science and sensational journalism. The author is an embarrassment to herself, to TIME, to Northwestern University and to journalism in general

alvarez2
alvarez2 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

This is one of the poorest examples of science journalism I have seen in a very long time.  The central premise that p53 is only up regulated as a result of DNA damage is ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT.  The ability of various natural compounds to up regulate DNA repair mechanisms without inducing DNA damages is why hundreds of peer reviewed studies find a strong correlation between lower cancer incidence and consumption of these compounds.  Secondly, I would never write a story about a study that did not at least look for DNA damage or evaluate these results in an animal model.  Is the author of this piece close personal friends with the study author?  How else could she be duped into writing this scrawl?

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

TIME DOESN'T HAVE A CLUE

GALLIC ACID PROTECTS DNA

Gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid, GA) is a constituent of plant derived foods, beverages and herbal remedies. We investigated its DNAprotective properties in a placebo controlled human intervention trial in single cell gel electrophoresis experiments. Supplementation of drinking water with GA (12.8 mg/person/d) for three days led to a significant reduction of DNA migration attributable to oxidised pyrimidines (endonuclease III sensitive sites) and oxidised purines (formamidopyrimidine glycosylase sensitive sites) in lymphocytes of healthy individuals by 75% and 64% respectively. Also DNA damage caused by treatment of the cells with reactive oxygen species (ROS) was reduced after GA consumption (by 41%). These effects were paralleled by an increase of the activities of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathion-S-transferase-π) and a decrease of intracellular ROS concentrations in lymphocytes, while no alterations of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), of malondialdehyde levels in serum and of the urinary excretion of isoprostanes were found. Experiments with rats showed that GA reduces oxidatively damaged DNA in lymphocytes, liver, colon and lungs and protects these organs against γ-irradiation-induced strand breaks and formation of oxidatively damaged DNA-bases. Furthermore, the number of radiation-induced preneoplastic hepatic foci was decreased by 43% after oral administration of the phenolic. Since we did not find alterations of the TAC in plasma and lipid peroxidation of cell membranes but intracellular effects it is likely that the antioxidant properties of GA seen in vivo are not due to direct scavenging of radicals but rather to indirect mechanisms (e.g. protection against ROS via activation of transcription factors). As the amount of GA used in the intervention trial is similar to the daily intake in Middle Europe (18 mg/person/day), our findings indicate that it may contribute to prevention of formation of oxidatively damaged DNA in humans.




byrondelaney
byrondelaney

"Gallic acid, a predominant polyphenol, has been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis in animal models and in vitro cancerous cell lines. The inhibitory effect of gallic acid on cancer cell growth is mediated via the modulation of genes which encodes for cell cycle, metastasis, angiogenesis and apoptosis. Gallic acid inhibits activation of NF-κB and Akt signaling pathways along with the activity of COX, ribonucleotide reductase and GSH. Moreover, gallic acid activates ATM kinase signaling pathways to prevent the processes of carcinogenesis. The data so far available, both from in vivo and in vitro studies, indicate that this dietary polyphenol could be promising agent in the field of cancer chemoprevention."

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

TIME IS INCORRECT AND DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING CONCERNING SCIENCE

Health-promoting effects of green tea.

Faculty of Human Life Sciences, Nagoya Keizai University, Inuyama, Japan.

Abstract

Green tea is manufactured from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis Theaceae and has been regarded to possess anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral effects. Many of the beneficial effects of green tea are related to the activities of (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a major component of green tea catechins. For about 20 years, we have engaged in studies to reveal the biological activities and action mechanisms of green tea and EGCG. This review summarizes several lines of evidence to indicate the health-promoting properties of green tea mainly based on our own experimental findings.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

TIME IS INCORRECT. 

"An expanding body of preclinical evidence suggests EGCG, the major catechin found in green tea (Camellia sinensis), has the potential to impact a variety of human diseases. Apparently, EGCG functions as a powerful antioxidant, preventing oxidative damage in healthy cells, but also as an antiangiogenic and antitumor agent and as a modulator of tumor cell response to chemotherapy. Much of the cancer chemopreventive properties of green tea are mediated by EGCG that induces apoptosis and promotes cell growth arrest by altering the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins, activating killer caspases, and suppressing oncogenic transcription factors and pluripotency maintain factors. In vitro studies have demonstrated that EGCG blocks carcinogenesis by affecting a wide array of signal transduction pathways including JAK/STAT, MAPK, PI3K/AKT, Wnt and Notch. EGCG stimulates telomere fragmentation through inhibiting telomerase activity. Various clinical studies have revealed that treatment by EGCG inhibits tumor incidence and multiplicity in different organ sites such as liver, stomach, skin, lung, mammary gland and colon. Recent work demonstrated that EGCG reduced DNMTs, proteases, and DHFR activities, which would affect transcription of TSGs and protein synthesis. EGCG has great potential in cancer prevention because of its safety, low cost and bioavailability. In this review, we discuss its cancer preventive properties and its mechanism of action at numerous points regulating cancer cell growth, survival, angiogenesis and metastasis. Therefore, non-toxic natural agent could be useful either alone or in combination with conventional therapeutics for the prevention of tumor progression and/or treatment of human malignancies."


TracyLupejkis
TracyLupejkis

I think the writers have what the John's Hopkins scientists tried to say ...for lack of a better term...all warped. Green and black teas have many, many documented health benefits. Coffee, not so much, but the one or 2 cups in the morning aren't going to give you cancer. As for artificial smoke flavoring...I think people can go without it as it has damaged stomic linings in rats. We already know that industrially processed meats and meat substitutes aren't good for us and that too much red meat is not a fantastic choice either. I wouldn't say that people should be vegetarians, but replace some red meat with lean chicken and fish, most people already try to do this.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

GALLIC ACID PROTECTS DNA

TIME IS INCORRECT AND INCOMPETENT

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

Gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid, GA) is a constituent of plant derived foods, beverages and herbal remedies. We investigated its DNAprotective properties in a placebo controlled human intervention trial in single cell gel electrophoresis experiments. Supplementation of drinking water with GA (12.8 mg/person/d) for three days led to a significant reduction of DNA migration attributable to oxidised pyrimidines (endonuclease III sensitive sites) and oxidised purines (formamidopyrimidine glycosylase sensitive sites) in lymphocytes of healthy individuals by 75% and 64% respectively. Also DNA damage caused by treatment of the cells with reactive oxygen species (ROS) was reduced after GA consumption (by 41%). These effects were paralleled by an increase of the activities of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathion-S-transferase-π) and a decrease of intracellular ROS concentrations in lymphocytes, while no alterations of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC), of malondialdehyde levels in serum and of the urinary excretion of isoprostanes were found. Experiments with rats showed that GA reduces oxidatively damaged DNA in lymphocytes, liver, colon and lungs and protects these organs against γ-irradiation-induced strand breaks and formation of oxidatively damaged DNA-bases. Furthermore, the number of radiation-induced preneoplastic hepatic foci was decreased by 43% after oral administration of the phenolic. Since we did not find alterations of the TAC in plasma and lipid peroxidation of cell membranes but intracellular effects it is likely that the antioxidant properties of GA seen in vivo are not due to direct scavenging of radicals but rather to indirect mechanisms (e.g. protection against ROS via activation of transcription factors). As the amount of GA used in the intervention trial is similar to the daily intake in Middle Europe (18 mg/person/day), our findings indicate that it may contribute to prevention of formation of oxidatively damaged DNA in humans.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

"Our previous study demonstrated the therapeutic potential of gallic acid (GA) for controlling tumor metastasis through its inhibitory effect on the motility of AGS cells. A noteworthy finding in our previous experiment was increased RhoB expression in GA-treated cells. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of RhoB expression on the inhibitory effects of GA on AGS cells. By applying the transfection of RhoB siRNA into AGS cells and an animal model, we tested the effect of GA on inhibition of tumor growth and RhoB expression. The results confirmed that RhoB-siRNA transfection induced GA to inhibit AGS cells' invasive growth involving blocking the AKT/small GTPase signals pathway and inhibition of NF-κB activity. Finally, we evaluated the effect of GA on AGS cell metastasis by colonization of tumor cells in nude mice. It showed GA inhibited tumor cells growth via the expression of RhoB. These data support the inhibitory effect of GA which was shown to inhibit gastric cancer cell metastasis and invasive growth via increased expression of RhoB, downregulation of AKT/small GTPase signals and inhibition of NF-κB activity. Thus, GA might be a potential agent in treating gastric cancer."

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

"Gallic acid, a predominant polyphenol, has been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis in animal models and in vitro cancerous cell lines. The inhibitory effect of gallic acid on cancer cell growth is mediated via the modulation of genes which encodes for cell cycle, metastasis, angiogenesis and apoptosis. Gallic acid inhibits activation of NF-κB and Akt signaling pathways along with the activity of COX, ribonucleotide reductase and GSH. Moreover, gallic acid activates ATM kinase signaling pathways to prevent the processes of carcinogenesis. The data so far available, both from in vivo and in vitro studies, indicate that this dietary polyphenol could be promising agent in the field of cancer chemoprevention."

JoelRon
JoelRon

This test is bogus as it was done on isolated cells and not within the human body environment in which we all take these foods/flavorings in.  Our bodies are full of nutrients, enzymes, amino acids, hormones and many other chemicals made by the body in which all work in synergy.  With the absence of all these molecules many things may show up harmful in an isolated lab test on cultured cells.  Therefore all test like this should be discarded and only done in human test subjects to get accurate info.


byrondelaney
byrondelaney

@JoelRon TIME and Alexandra got this totally and utterly wrong. Tea and coffee protect against DNA damage, which is indicated by the activation of p53. This is a garbage article written by a garbage journalist who should be fired. 

byrondelaney
byrondelaney like.author.displayName 1 Like

Alexandra and TIME. You are totally incorrect regarding tea and coffee and p53. You should not be writing articles and you are totally irresponsible, uneducated, and inept. 

"Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is derived from green tea, is well known for its chemopreventive activity. Several studies have shown that p53plays an important role in the activity of EGCG; however, the mechanism by which EGCG regulates p53 requires further investigation. In the present study, we showed that EGCG inhibits anchorage-independent growth of human lung cancer cells by upregulating p53 expression. EGCG treatment can substantially increase p53 stability, promote nuclear localization of p53 and decrease nuclear accumulation of MDM2. We also found that EGCG increases the phosphorylation of p53 at Ser15 and Ser20 and enhances its transcriptional activity. Although EGCG promotes MDM2 expression in ap53-dependent manner, the interaction between MDM2 and p53 was significantly inhibited following EGCG treatment, which resulted in the inhibition of MDM2-mediated p53 ubiquitination. Thus, our results suggest that the stabilization and activation of p53 may partly contribute to the anticancer activity of EGCG."


byrondelaney
byrondelaney

CNN you are 100% incorrect regarding tea and coffee. From the latest scientific article regarding this subject:

"Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is derived from green tea, is well known for its chemopreventive activity. Several studies have shown that p53plays an important role in the activity of EGCG; however, the mechanism by which EGCG regulates p53 requires further investigation. In the present study, we showed that EGCG inhibits anchorage-independent growth of human lung cancer cells by upregulating p53 expression. EGCG treatment can substantially increase p53 stability, promote nuclear localization of p53 and decrease nuclear accumulation of MDM2. We also found that EGCG increases the phosphorylation of p53 at Ser15 and Ser20 and enhances its transcriptional activity. Although EGCG promotes MDM2 expression in ap53-dependent manner, the interaction between MDM2 and p53 was significantly inhibited following EGCG treatment, which resulted in the inhibition of MDM2-mediated p53 ubiquitination. Thus, our results suggest that the stabilization and activation of p53 may partly contribute to the anticancer activity of EGCG."

beamer
beamer

The coffee, tea, or smoked liquid, may activate the p-53 repair gene but it doesn't mean that these products are causing  dna damage. They may just activate the gene without dna damage, helping the body to repair itself even better. We have known for years that green tea helps fight cancer cells and this is probably exactly the reason why.

KenCurrie
KenCurrie

Junk science strikes again.

byrondelaney
byrondelaney

@KenCurrie It's junk journalism written by someone with no science background. I'm simply amazed that TIME is so spectacularly inept. 

Pat1655
Pat1655

@KenCurrie

Junk commenters strike again. After readings the journal article, what are your specific disagreements with the science?

KenCurrie
KenCurrie

@Pat1655 That's between me and the article, thank you.

KenCurrie
KenCurrie

@Pat1655 Okay, you want an answer?  The problem is when very preliminary studies are taken as gospel.  It's when simple correlations are interpreted as cause and effect.  It's when a study such as this contradicts others which talk about the health benefits of tea and coffee, and nobody bothers to cite those contrary studies.  It's when the media takes a preliminary study such as this and runs with it, scaring the devil out of coffee and tea drinkers and those who use smokey flavorings.  And it's when folks such as you jump all over folks who raise questions about a "scientific" study.  For example, for years junk science tried to blame autism on vaccines; the CDC has finally dispensed with that nonsense. Another example: junk science (and Matt Damon) blames fracking for despoiling drinking water supplies, when there's been absolutely no evidence confirming that claim.  There's lots of junk science out there; a skeptical mind is sometimes required.  Reasoning is sometimes required.

Pat1655
Pat1655

@KenCurrie @Pat1655

So you didn't read it and just like calling things junk science. Why not keep that valuable thought to yourself.

Grainboy
Grainboy like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm very happy to see that scientifically educated people are responding immediately to this poor attempt at science journalism. I'm sure that Alexandra Sifferlin honestly believed that she was doing a service to the readership with this article but reports like this, lacking sufficient information, are misleading, create unnecessary concern and anxiety, and perpetuate a variety of myths (not only about health in general but also with respect to the validity and value of scientific research.) Alexandra, perhaps you are new at this, but you need to follow established guidelines on responsible science writing.

SjRudloff
SjRudloff

Well written, and in the last part qualified as to conclusions and impact.  There may be a lot of those adaptations making foods delicious, safe, and nutritious, and various metabolic failures in the process related to unknown interactions that make them more dangerous.

Personally, I always eat center cut barbecue based entirely on intuitive math analysis of assumptions, and raw cabbage.  Very scientific.  Very delicious.  One out of three is sometimes okay.  Helps to keep the pig menace under control.  Not willing to help  with the blowfish infestation, though.

KenLee
KenLee like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

Do the scientists even review the journalist's article for accuracy?

There is a fundamental flaw in the logic of this article. the p53 gene has many functions. One of them is to repair the DNA. Analagous to turning on the hose to stop a fire.

The article states that flavorings appear to trigger p53 activity. That is a MUCH MUCH DIFFERENT MEANING than CAUSE DNA DAMAGE. What the article is basically saying is that these flavorings turn on the water hose. This does NOT mean the flavorings are starting a fire - or causing carcinogenic forms of DNA mutation.

In fact, if you trigger the DNA repair genes without any genetic damage, you end up reducing the amount of genetic mutation resulting from random mutations. Yes - that means small exposures would actually be BENEFICIAL. That's why there's research that suggests drinking tea and coffee may actually reduce cancer. This phenomenon in scientific jargon is called Hormesis.

This article (the journalist article, not the scientific one) is a load of garbage.

Pat1655
Pat1655

@KenLee They also looked at DNA damage.

nobotee
nobotee

@Pat1655 Go back and read again. Only more carefully. Nowhere does this "article" state that the study in question looked at DNA damage. The ONLY parameter measured was the activity of P53. There is a brief mention of a different, unrelated study that noted DNA damage in the stomach cells of rats that were given smoky flavorings (NOT tea or coffee by the way).

amieres
amieres

@KenLee What they found is a cause-effect reaction: add  flavoring and 18 hours later P53 activity is observed. It is not known exactly what mechanism is increasing this activity. But it is well known that DNA damage triggers P53 activity, so that is a plausible explanation. 

Following your fire hose analogy, the flavoring may be directly opening the hose OR it may be starting a fire which in turn triggers the opening of the hose. Which is it? They don't know ... for now.  More experiments are needed to determine this. The logic of the article is not flawed, they just mention one very likely explanation.

nobotee
nobotee

@amieres Your reasoning MIGHT apply to smoky flavorings. It does NOT apply to teas and (to a lesser extent) coffees. Copious clinical and scientific evidence demonstrates quite conclusively that the chemical constituents of green and black teas, particularly gallic acid, have anti-cancer, anti-tumor properties. Moreover, there is no credible scientific evidence that even suggests gallic acid causes cancer or damages DNA in any way. 

Accordingly, to suggest that P53 activation in the presence of gallic acid is the result of gallic acid causing damage to DNA is illogical, fallacious and irresponsible in the extreme. 
It is, quite simply, the very definition of junk science and sensational journalism. The author is an embarrassment to herself, to TIME, to Northwestern University and to journalism in general.

amieres
amieres

@nobotee

Wow strong words to qualify the article and the author. Such strong emotions. I wouldn't go that far, specially when analyzing scientific data. I do think the article jumps to conclusions and ignores other possibilities in order to be alarmist and attract readers. In that sense it is not a good article.

Having said that, the article is not wrong when it suggest that one possible explanation for the P53 activation by those flavorings (tea, coffee & smoke) may be DNA damage. The experiment, if it was done correctly, constitutes 'credible scientific evidence'. It is not conclusive though, far from it, is just evidence that merits more investigation. Other experiments that specifically identify DNA damage or that explain other pathways for P53 activation would be necessary to be conclusive.

Even if it is eventually proven that tea or coffee or smoke do produce DNA damage that does not necessarily imply that consuming tea or coffee or smoke is bad for you. Activating P53 through some minor DNA damage may be beneficial to fix or prevent other DNA damage. 

Janice
Janice

@KenLee Great reply... I was thinking the same thing when I read this.