Studies Show Drinking Tea Fights Cancer

BETHESDA, MD, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Tea drinkers rejoice! Studies show that drinking tea reduces the risk of some cancers in humans.

Previously tea was thought to have cardiovascular benefits, but there is mounting evidence that tea has cancer-fighting properties as well.

Specifically, the antioxidant properties in green, black and oolong or real tea are cited in these studies. These teas originate from the camellia sinensis plant and are excellent sources of polyphenols or plant chemicals (phytochemicals).

In particular real tea is rich in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants, which have been highly touted as a primary staple in the diet of the Okinawan people of Japan, otherwise known as the healthiest people on earth. Herbal teas are derived from a different plant source and lack the antioxidant properties of the flavanoids in real tea.

Antioxidants help protect the body against disease by counteracting the harmful effects of free radicals -- stray, highly reactive particles that accumulate in the body as byproducts of metabolism. Free radicals injure surrounding cells through oxidation. Left unchecked they can damage cellular DNA and potentially cause cancer.

Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene are free radical scavengers. But research from both the National Foundation for Cancer Research and the University of Kansas reports that green tea is 100 times more potent than vitamin C and 25 times more potent than vitamin E at protecting cells from damage linked to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. In addition, indications are that black tea contains the same amount of phytochemicals as green tea.

Most of the data supporting the anti-cancer benefits of tea at this point is derived from animal studies in which animals were treated with polyphenols equivalent to amounts consumed by regular tea drinkers. Evidence is the strongest for prevention of cancers of the oral cavity, stomach and colon. A few animal studies link tea with a decreased risk of lung and skin cancers.

Studies in humans have been less consistent but still suggest that tea has anticancer benefits. So drink tea to your health!

The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) was founded in 1973 to support cancer research in the laboratory. NFCR sponsors research at both the cellular and molecular levels to better prevent, diagnose, treat and eventually cure cancer. By supporting the best ideas of the best minds, advances in one field contribute to discoveries in another. We call this our "laboratory without walls." NFCR is fully dedicated to advancing cancer research in the laboratory. For more than 25 years, NFCR has provided over $180 million to more than 135 research projects in 20 countries around the world.

This material is presented as a public service by the National Foundation for Cancer Research. For more information call 1-800-321-CURE or write NFCR, 4600 East West Highway, Suite 525, Bethesda, MD 20814. Please visit our Web site at 

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