Tea and Cancer: Anti-Carcinogenic Claims Are Plausible But Unproven
Tea Deliver On (Some) of the Health Benefits Its Packages Promise
Reading the bold promises of herbal teas at your local supermarket, you would be forgiven for assuming all illness and disease on earth could be eradicated in a few sips. From digestive issues to sleep disorders, tea manufacturers have made some big promises, few of which have been evaluated by the FDA.
But there could be something to it. A recent digital gathering of experts examined claims, effects, and benefits of regular tea consumption in relation to common health problems, including cancer. The Sixth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health presented several studies that indicated tea can reduce the risk of illness and disease.
It’s worth noting that the conference is organized by the Tea Council of the USA, a public relations organization that serves the tea industry.
What’s the Deal?
Tea contains high levels of flavonoids, which are the real heroes here. Flavonoids have shown to offer protection against many age-related conditions. Most notable is the link between flavonoids and cognitive decline, including dementia. There have been several long-term studies that show the anti-inflammatory properties of flavonoids play a role in preventing vascular diseases.
Green tea offers higher levels of flavonoids compared to black tea. Specifically, a type of flavonoid called catechins is much more prevalent in green tea and is considered the most effective chemical in the flavonoid family.
Addressing inflammation could reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Tea and Cancer
With between 30 and 40% of all cancer types being preventable by making healthy lifestyle choices, tea is an excellent choice as an alternative to sugary drinks. The link isn’t proven, but there is plausible evidence that tea can play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers. The evidence shows some signs of reduced breast, endometrial, liver, biliary tract, and oral cancers. Still, much larger studies are needed.
A Calming Jolt
Tea also offers immediate benefits. While more studies are needed, early trials have shown that tea can improve short-term attention and focus. This effect is due to the unique combination of caffeine and theanine, which may help reduce stress. These chemicals may generate heightened levels of attention without the jittery feeling associated with heavy coffee consumption.
Tea may also offer cardiovascular benefits as well, including a 4% decrease in the risk of stroke.
Much more research is needed to establish the link between tea and cancer. Differentiating green and black tea may also improve the effectiveness of different tea blends. Those are issues for researchers to tackle; for us, it’s worth making an effort to incorporate tea as a healthy habit to replace sugary alternatives.