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Green Tea Reduces Brain Damage From Lead Poisoning

GIZA, Egypt—Drinking green tea may provide protection against neurotoxicity induced by consuming high levels of lead in foods, according to a new study published in the journal NeuroToxicology. The findings suggest the combination of green tea and the chemical lead acetate causes less damage to the brain and nervous system compared to lead acetate alone.

In the United States, levels of heavy metals, including lead, should not exceed 10 parts per million (ppm) in any food ingredient. Imported products, such as spices and powders, pose a particular threat, because many countries do not share the United States’ standards concerning lead. In fact, in 2010, four cases of lead poisoning in Indian children in the Boston area were linked to consumption of Indian spices that were used as seasonings as well as in ceremonial powders commonly used to mark newborn Indian infants for religious and cultural purposes. Investigators discovered after the children received treatment and the parents discontinued use of the spices and/or powders, all of the children had improved blood lead levels.

For this study, five groups of rats were fed placebos, lead acetate, lead acetate along with green tea, solely green tea for one month, or lead acetate for one month, followed by green tea for 15 days.

Lead acetate administration induced loss of body weight and decreased concentration of reduced glutathione and superoxide dismutase activity (SOD) activity in brain tissues, as well as significantly high DNA fragmentation and pathological changes. Co-administration of green tea with lead acetate significantly alleviated these adverse effects.

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