(Health Secrets) Drinking a cup of green tea each day may reduce the risk of lung cancer in both smokers and non smokers, according to a recent study. However, experts say the tea should never be used as an excuse to continue smoking.
A study conducted by Dr I-Hsin Lin, of Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan, looked at the link between drinking green tea and the risk of developing lung cancer. Green tea is commonly consumed in Asia, where cancer is less prevalent than in other parts of the world, and this has caused scientists to speculate on whether green tea can lower the risk of developing cancer.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world, with around 1.3 million people diagnosed each year. Worldwide, the highest rates of lung cancer in men are in Europe and North America, and for women in North America. In these countries lung cancer rates are currently declining as smoking becomes less acceptable.
Currently the lowest lung cancer rates in the world for men and women are in African countries and South Central Asia where drinking green tea is common. However, it is predicted that this trend is set to change as smoking becomes more common in countries like China.
What does the study show?
The study looked at around five hundred subjects, both smokers and non smokers. Among the non smokers, the study concluded that people who didn’t drink green tea at all were five times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who drank at least one cup of green tea per day.
The results were quite startling among the smokers, with non tea drinking smokers being twelve times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who drank a cup of green tea each day. Experts from leading cancer charities are quick to add that green tea shouldn’t be used as an alternative to quitting smoking, as it can’t protect against the wide ranging long term damage that cigarette smoke does to the body.
Scientists believe that the reason green tea helps to protect against various cancers is that it contains polyphenols. These are known to naturally prevent cancer cells from growing and reproducing. Polyphenols can also be found in peanuts, pomegranates, olive oil, and berries, as well as a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
Although the results of the study did point to green tea having anti cancer properties, it also looked at the DNA of each subject and noted that a particular gene seemed to have an impact on lung cancer risk. Green tea drinkers with the gene IGF1 had a greatly reduced risk of developing lung cancer compared with green tea drinkers with a different version of this gene.
What is green tea?
Green tea originated in China and is a type of tea made purely from Camellia Sinensis leaves which have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. It is commonly consumed all over Asia, and has recently become more popular in western countries as an alternative to black tea.
In Asia green tea is not seen simply as a drink, but as a traditional medicine which is used to control bleeding, help wounds to heal quickly, stabilize body temperature, regulate blood sugar, and assist digestion.
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant, and research has shown that drinking green tea regularly may offer a variety of other health benefits. These could include:
- Reducing risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reducing risk of developing other cancers
- Increasing bone density
- Improving cognitive function
- Reducing the risk of kidney stones
There are other possible medical benefits of green tea, but as yet these have not been clinically proven. They include treating Multiple Sclerosis, preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, reducing the impact of LDL cholesterol, and stimulating the production of HDL cholesterol.
What is known is that drinking a cup of green tea each day will not harm you, so it’s probably worth including it in your daily routine and using it to replace at least one cup of coffee while the research into its many benefits continues.