CANCER
November 12, 2009

Fight Cancer: Guzzle Green Tea

Drinking lots of green tea (5+ cups a day) can significantly reduce lymph and blood cancers, a recent study has found.

Green tea – and lots of it – may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The large−scale study followed over 40,000 Japanese men and women over a period of nine years.

Scientists – and the public – have long been acquainted with the benefits of consuming green tea, and researcher Toru Naganuma at the Tohoku University School of Medicine in Sendai set out to determine what effect it might have on cancers of the blood and lymph systems. The lymph – or lymphatic – system is involved in the immune response, and consists of the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow.

The reduction in risk of lymph cancers was similarly marked: for those who drank five cups or more per day, their risk was 48% lower than those who drank one or fewer.

The team followed over 19,000 men and 22,000 women, who were between the ages of 40 and 79 when the study began. The researchers tracked the participants’ green tea intake and dietary habits, and recorded how many of the participants developed cancers of the blood and lymph systems over a follow−up period of nine years.

During this time, 157 of the participants developed blood or lymph cancers. But for those who consumed the most green tea – five or more cups per day – the risk for developing blood cancer was 42% lower than those who consumed one cup a day or fewer. The reduction in risk of lymph cancers was similarly marked: for those who drank five cups or more per day, their risk was 48% lower than those who drank one or fewer.

The results held true even after controlling for other variables like age, gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, and interestingly, fish and soy consumption. The pattern was also seen for obese individuals, who are at greater risk of developing these kinds of cancers, the authors say.

More studies will be needed to confirm these results, however, before recommendations are made about daily green tea consumption or adding supplements to the diet.

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