Those addicted to tea and coffee, beware. A study has found that tea, coffee and liquid smoke flavouring can activate a gene associated with cancer.
Pairing food chemistry and cancer biology in a laboratory, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University’s Kimmel Cancer Centre tested the potentially harmful effects of foods and flavourings on the DNA of cells. They found liquid smoke flavouring, black and green teas and coffee activated highest levels of cancer-linked gene called p53.
The p53 gene gets activated when DNA is damaged. Its gene product makes repair proteins that mend DNA. The higher the level of DNA damage, the more activated p53 becomes.
Scott Kern, professor of oncology, said “It’s clear plants contain many compounds that are meant to deter humans and animals from eating them, like cellulose in stems and bitter-tasting tannins, and their impact needs to be assessed.”
“We found Scotch whiskey, which has smoky flavour and could be substitute for liquid smoke, had minimal effect on p53 activity,” says Kern.