Tea and Cancer: Potential Prevention

Tea and Cancer: Potential Prevention

Consumed traditionally as a delicacy by the aristocracy in ancient China, drinking tea dates back nearly 5000 years. The Chinese believe there are many health benefits from drinking tea and they have used it as a medicinal brew for centuries.

Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant with tea varieties created from the different processing treatments. Green tea is made from fresh leaves which are steamed or heated immediately after harvest. Black tea receives more processing, making it the most oxidized. In making oolong tea, the leaves are left to oxidize to a level between green and black tea.

Green tea may be a cancer killer

Let’s talk about green tea and cancer. Green tea contains many natural compounds that act in specific ways on our body. Tea polyphenols are bioactive plant compounds that include catechins, which are believed to be responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to green tea.

The most active and abundant catechin in green tea is known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), while Epigallocatechin (ECG) is another catechin found in tea in lower amounts. Both have high antioxidant activity, and together, they act to neutralize many harmful free radicals in our body.

Scientific studies have attempted to prove that these elements in tea aid in the proliferation of cancerous cells from growing, in killing existing cancer cells, and in preventing the formation and growth of new blood vessels in tumors. Tea is thought to increase the levels of other important cellular proteins that make it very difficult for cancer cells to grow.

Some studies claim that EGCG and other green tea antioxidants are toxic to cancer cells. Further clinical trials are ongoing to conclusively prove whether EGCG and green tea extract supplements can protect us from developing cancer. The available evidence suggest that daily consumption of 2-3 cups of green tea can help lower your overall cancer risk without any side effects. Therefore, it is safe to assume that green tea may be the best cancer fighting tea. 

Now, although the evidence we have about cancer prevention and tea is mixed, an overview of studies point to green tea being the best tea for cancer patients and that drinking tea reduces the risk of cancer.

Green tea and breast cancer:

EGCG, the primary polyphenol in green tea, may reduce the risk of breast and other cancers. By acting in a specific way the EGCG and other antioxidants in green tea prevent cancer.

Can black tea prevent cancer?

Most people drink black tea for energy and improved alertness. There is also scientific evidence to show this works. While drinking black tea can increase energy, reduce atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and help lower the risk of heart attack, it does not lower the risk of breast, stomach, or colorectal cancer. But it is still a healthy beverage to include in your diet.


How to drink tea the healthy way

The way you drink tea makes a huge difference in how it affects your body. The type, quality, quantity, duration of brewing and temperature of brewing are all factors.

Additionally, not all green teas are strong enough to kill cancer cells. The highest levels of antioxidants are present in a freshly brewed cup using real green tea leaves.

The lower the amounts of tea leaves and buds, the lesser the antioxidant content, minimizing the health benefits of green tea.

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