Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water! It is also considered to be the single best thing you can add to your diet to ward off serious illness. The ancients believed it because of how it made them feel and today modern science reveals why. Green and white tea have been proven to reduce the incidence of both cancer and heart disease. They protect against osteoporosis. They strengthen the immune system. And recent studies suggest that they also have a significant anti-aging effect.
So what is it about tea that makes it so healthy? Doctors and nutritionists have been telling us for years to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants. Well, tea is loaded with them! As a matter of fact, Matcha, a Japanese powdered green tea, has more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable on the planet! (More about Matcha in a future article.) What exactly do these antioxidants do? The polyphenols and flavenoids found in tea (most significantly in green and white tea, but also in black) prevent free radicals from damaging DNA. In essence, they nip cancer initiation in the bud by regulating abnormal cell growth. Studies have shown that certain tea polyphenols may even destroy cancer cells without damaging the surrounding healthy cells. Many life-style and nutritionally linked cancers including prostate, stomach, pancreas, breast, lung and colon cancer can actually be prevented by tea consumption. One Japanese study compared the effects of drinking 3 versus 10 cups of green tea daily. Those that drank 10 cups had a 50% reduction in cancer incidence and there was also a significant delay in the development of those cancers that did occur. In July 1996 The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study of more than 35,000 postmenopausal women showing that those who drank at least two cups of black tea a day were 40% less likely to develop urinary tract cancer and 68% less likely to develop digestive tract cancer than those women who did not drink tea. Another study published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research combined cancer medication with tea polyphenols, specifically, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a catechin and potent antioxidant found in green and white tea. The resulting treatment was found to be 20 times more effective than the cancer drugs* alone. Other studies have also shown that EGCG is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E at protecting cells and DNA from damage believed to be linked to cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. It also has twice the antioxidant benefit of resveratrol found in red wine. And the studies go on and on. (If EGCG is taken on an empty stomach the plasma concentration of free EGCG could be increased 5-fold!)
In 2006 our own Mayo Clinic initiated studies on tea at the bequest of several of their cancer patients. These patients, having heard of the benefits of green tea, started taking green tea extract and drinking green tea on their own. In EVERY case there was a marked improvement in their condition. EGCG was found to annihilate CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia.) It also reduced the levels of the protein Mcl-1, which is a protein that is essential to the survival of human myeloma cells. Up to now most studies have been geared towards green tea as a preventative measure but now, according to Discovery’s Edge, The Mayo Clinic’s online research magazine, doctors at the clinic are now studying green tea as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of cancer.
*(Important Note: In 2009 Dr. Axel Schonthal of the University of Southern California conducted a study in the treatment of multiple myeloma and mantel cell lymphoma with the drug Velcade (Bortezomib) in which EGCG and the Velcade molecule actually created a chemical bond between each other, meaning that the Velcade could no longer bond with its intended target inside the tumor cells. As a result of these findings, Dr. Schonthal advises patients undergoing treatment with Velcade to avoid green tea and green tea extract. Dr. Schonthal is also studying other well-established chemotherapeutic drugs with which the inclusion of EGCG appears to yield an ‘encouragingly beneficial’ outcome along the lines of those in the above-mentioned Japanese study.)
**The Mayo Clinic cautions that more clinical trials are needed to determine the optimal dosing, schedules, toxicities and clinical benefits of green tea.
Disclaimer: Any and all health related information contained in these writings is based upon the writer's understanding of the specific studies mentioned, all of which are a matter of public record. We are not health-care professionals and our writings do not constitute any professional medical advise.