I’m always delighted to see continuing research supporting the profound health benefits derived from drinking green tea. A google alert about an article from Cancer News Today left me quite excited, only to see that I was being sent to WebMD for the story. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of WebMD, but the bottom line is that they did provide additional supportive information about tea’s health benefits.
In the article, WebMD quotes Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, the American Cancer Society’s Strategic Director of Nutritional Epidemiology, as saying:
“Epidemiologically, one of the challenges is finding populations that drink enough green tea and have for a long time.”
Cancer research in Asian countries has been on-going for decades, with the U.S. only more recently doing studies on green tea and cancer. The U.S. has had a policy of dismissing studies from China and Japan, despite their substantial evidence and strong scientifically controlled research. When she says it’s challenging to find “populations that drink enough green tea” – excuse me – but Asian countries have been drinking large amounts of green tea for thousands of years. The issue here is that American researchers have chosen not to trust the findings of researchers from these countries until more recently.
WebMD goes on to report on a Japanese study that involved about 500 Japanese women with Stage I and II breast cancer. They found that increased green tea consumption before and after surgery was associated with a lower recurrence of the cancers.
China has been doing research on green tea for decades. This research has shown that the more green tea participants drank, the less their risk of developing stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.
WebMD concludes its cancer section of the article with a recent analysis of 22 studies that examined the correlation between high tea consumption and a reduced risk of lung cancer. According to these studies, increasing your daily intake of green (not black) tea by two cups may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.
The article goes on to examine the impact of green tea on heart disease and again the news is very good. Japanese researchers following over 500 people found that drinking at least four cups of green tea every day may be related to a reduced severity of coronary heart disease among the male participants. And a Dutch study that involved 3,000 men and women found that the more tea consumed, the less severe the clogging of the heart’s blood vessels. The results were especially prominent in women. It is green tea’s antioxidants that act as dilators, which improve the flexibility of blood vessels. When blood vessels are more flexible, they are less likely to become clogged.
“Taken altogether, the evidence certainly suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health,” says Diane McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. “It’s not going to cure anything and it shouldn’t be consumed as a drug, but it can complement the rest of the diet.” When she says it’s not going to cure anything, I would have to say that there are countless studies that in fact credit antioxidant-rich green and white teas as being curative for a variety of illnesses.
McCullough offers a reminder to eat your fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts and drink as much green tea as you want. “I don’t think it can hurt to drink it. I’d focus on dietary sources rather than supplements because there are several compounds in green tea that might need to be consumed together. We just don’t know yet.” Consuming the tea versus the supplements is something that I would have to agree with. But when she says “I don’t think it can hurt to drink it,” I want to scream. What more evidence does this woman need?
As we’ve reported before, doctors (such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz), who are holistic in their beliefs and support the notion of balance and harmony in the body, aren’t afraid to voice their strong recommendation for the daily and frequent consumption of green tea. So drink up and drink frequently. Here’s to your health.