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Drinking green tea may help protect against cancer of the digestive system, study says

Green tea may help protect against cancer, new study says. (iStockphoto)
Green tea may help protect against cancer of the digestive system

THE QUESTION Lab studies have indicated that components of tea could have cancer-fighting capabilities. Might this translate to fewer cases of cancer among those who regularly drink tea, especially green tea?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 69,310 women, middle-aged and older, who were cancer-free at the start of the study and rarely if ever smoked or drank alcohol. About 28 percent of them drank tea, mostly green tea, three or more times a week. In an 11-year span, 1,255 women developed stomach, esophageal, colorectal, liver, pancreatic or gallbladder/bile duct cancer. Regular tea drinkers were 14 percent less likely to have developed a digestive cancer than were those who never drank tea. Risk fell as tea consumption increased. Those who drank two to three cups of tea daily were 21 percent less likely to have a digestive cancer than non-tea-drinkers. Also, the longer tea-drinking had been a regular habit, the lower the women’s risk, especially for colorectal, stomach and esophageal cancers. Women who had been regular tea-drinkers for 20 years or more were 27 percent less likely to have developed a digestive cancer.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Women who drink tea. Researchers believe the polyphenol compounds in tea, which are antioxidants, are key to its possible effect on cancer. Green tea is thought to be especially beneficial.

CAVEATS The study included only women; whether the finding applies to men remains unclear. Whether tea consumption might affect other types of cancer was not tested. Some of the data came from the women’s responses on questionnaires. All of the women lived in China; whether other aspects of their diet may have affected the results is not known.

FIND THIS STUDY November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

LEARN MORE ABOUT digestive cancers at (click “Learn About Cancer”). Learn about tea and cancer prevention at

Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.



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