A compound found in green tea can kill oral cancer cells, say researchers at Penn State. Food scientists at the US university’s Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health demonstrated that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) triggered a process in mitochondria that led to infected cells being destroyed, while healthy ones were left alone.

The study, which was supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research and reported in the online issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, could lead to treatments for oral cancer, as well as other types of the disease.

The next step would be to study the mechanism in animals. If those tests and human trials are successful, the researchers then hope to create anti-cancer treatments that are as effective as current treatments, such as chemotherapy, without the harmful side effects.