Who would have thought that sitting around drinking a cup of green tea with the girls would have some serious health benefits? Chances are ever since you have been partaking in tea time with the girls you have done so because of the social aspect, where else can you sit around and catch up on the local gossip. Now thanks to some researchers from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer center your tea time can actually help reduce your risk for gastrointestinal cancers.
Assistant professor of Medicine, Sarah Nechuta, Ph.D., MPH was the lead author of the study, while professor of Medicine Wei Zheng M.D., Ph.D., MPH, was the main investigator. What these researchers hoped to prove through the course of their study was that women who consume green tea could lower their risk of developing certain gastrointestinal cancers, particularly stomach and colorectal cancers. To determine how effective green tea was at reducing the risk the researchers used a population-based study.
The researchers surveyed 75,000 Chinese women who were currently enrolled in another study. For the purpose of this study young women were excluded from the study, only women considered to be middle age and older were used. To help minimize any influence of outside factors only women who were nonsmokers and nondrinkers were allowed to participate, women who had previously smoked were also prohibited from participating in the study. At the beginning of the study each women was asked a series of questions, including but not limited to if they drank tea, how often they drank tea, what type of tea they drank, and how much tea they consumed.
Upon completion of the study, what researchers discovered was that women who drank green tea on a regular basis decreased their risk of developing gastrointestinal cancers. What researchers defined as regular consumption were women who drank tea a minimum of three times a week for at least a six-month period. Numbers from the study show women who drank teat a minimum of three times a week saw a 17% reduction, while women who drank green tea at least three times a day say a reduction of 21%.
Something interesting that came to light during the study was how drinking green tea provided the biggest reduction in risk for two types of cancer, colorectal and stomach cancer. If you were to combine all types of digestive cancers into one group, women who had been drinking green tea for a minimum of 20 years reduced their risk by 27%. However, if you were to look at the numbers for colorectal cancer on their own there was a 29% reduction in the same type of women.
What researchers think is that the catechins that are naturally found in green tea are working to reduce the risk of cancer in these women because of their antioxidants. However, researchers also think the catechins are able to block the cells that cause tumors from growing and invading the body, but also lower the amount of DNA damage that occurs in the body from environmental factors.
Sheila Homer is a contributing writer at Health for Her, a women’s health resource.