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Green tea takes on poison

Dioxin, a carcinogenic by-product of many combustion processes, is ubiquitous throughout the environment, including in the food people eat. One way to protect against this contaminant could rely on natural plant compounds that short-circuit dioxin's toxicity. A new study finds that green tea contains several such agents and suggests that other dietary staples might offer protection against dioxin.

Several antioxidants in green tea leaves have the potential to block dioxin's effect on its docking point within cells. Chief among these is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). In the new study, Hitoshi Ashida of Kobe (Japan) University and his colleagues assess the potency of 20 different green tea compounds, including EGCG, in blocking dioxin.

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