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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Green Tea Compounds Prevent Memory Loss From Lack of Oxygen

People with sleep apnea, a disorder that affects more than 12 million people in the United States, literally stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes for a minute or longer. With the most serious form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), this can happen hundreds of times during a single night and deprive the brain of oxygen.

The result? Possible brain damage causing memory problems. In fact, people with OSA are known to have increased markers of oxidative stress and exhibit changes in their brain tissue in areas involved in learning and memory.
But natural substances in green tea appear to stave off these OSA-caused cognitive deficits according to new research published in the second issue for May of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Scientists studied the effects of green tea polyphenols (GTP, for short) on rats who were intermittently deprived of oxygen in order to simulate the lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia, that humans with OSA experience. Chronic hypoxia in rats is known to produce similar neurological deficit patterns seen in humans with sleep apnea.

Previous research has shown that GTPs may reduce the risk of a variety of different diseases, most likely because they possess anti-oxidant properties and act as free radical scavengers. "OSA has been increasingly recognized as a serious and frequent health condition with potential long-term morbidities that include learning and psychological disabilities," David Gozal, M.D., professor and director of Kosair Children's Hospital Research Institute at the University of Louisville, said in a prepared release for the press. "A growing body of evidence suggests that the adverse neurobehavioral consequences imposed by hypoxia stem, at least in part, from oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling cascades."

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