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Green tea might lower GI cancer risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Vanderbilt University study:Green tea could protect from cancer of the GI tract.

Drinking green tea has seems to protect women from some forms of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer that include stomach, esophagus and colorectal, report Vanderbilt university researchers.

The finding is taken from results of surveys from women enrolled in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study that included approximately 75,000 Chinese women who were middle aged and older.

Women in the study were asked about their consumption of tea, what type they drank and how much to assess the impact of green tea on cancer prevention. Most of the women in the study said they drink a green tea.

Drinking green tea was linked to a 17% lower risk of developing stomach, esophageal and colorectal cancer combined. The risk was reduced even further when women drank tea more than three times a week.

Lead study author Sarah Nechuta, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of Medicine said in a press release, “For all digestive system cancers combined, the risk was reduced by 27 percent among women who had been drinking tea regularly for at least 20 years,” said Nechuta. “For colorectal cancer, risk was reduced by 29 percent among the long-term tea drinkers. These results suggest long-term cumulative exposure may be particularly important.”

Green tea has been linked to multiple health benefits because of its anti-oxidant effect from compounds known as polyphenols – specifically, EGCG and ECG.

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The compounds in the popular beverage may help thwart cancer of the GI tract because they protect from DNA damage that is known to lead to abnormal cell growth and the formation of tumors.

The researchers explain women in the study who drank tea regularly tended to be well educated, exercise regularly they consumed more fruits and vegetables, which may have contributed to the finding that is published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Even though the researchers adjusted for confounding variables, they concluded healthier lifestyles may also have contributed to the lower real scope of cancer found from the research. None of the women included in a study consumed alcohol and they were all non-smoking.

The results and show a link between drinking green tea and a lower risk of cancers of the GI tract. Larger studies would be needed to say polyphenols in the beverage definitely prevent cancer. Green tea is a healthy beverage choice that can be substituted for high calorie sugar-laden drinks.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.111.031419
"Prospective cohort study of tea consumption and risk of digestive system cancers: results from the Shanghai Women's Health Study"
Sarah Nechuta, et al.
November 1, 2012

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