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Tea and Health

The following information should in no way replace professional medical advice, but may reveal some new reasons to love tea even more.

tea and health
In recent years, along with an interest in everything that is natural, we've seen an increase on scientific research regarding the potential benefits of tea on human health.

OltBesides the obvious benefits that tea is an all-natural and low calories drink (if taken without milk or sugar), recent research has shown that tea can help in:

  • reducing the risk of cancer
  • improve cardiovascular activity
  • reduce cholesterol levels
  • contribute to oral health, by strengthening tooth enamelk (tea is a natural source of fluor)
  • aid in the digestive process and improve the digestive activity in general

Tea is composed of three major chemical components - polyphenols (polyphenols in tea are called flavonoids), caffeine and essential oils. Polyphenols have antioxidant properties that help to neutralize free radicals and inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the blood. Caffeine acts as a mild stimulant to the heart and circulatory system, helps to intensify the senses of taste and smell, and helps stimulate the digestive juices and metabolism (which helps to eliminate toxins from the body).

A cup of tea usually contains less than half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. The actual level of caffeine depend on the specific blend and the amount of leaves used. In general, green tea contains less caffeine then oolong tea, and in turn oolong tea contains less caffeine than black tea. Tea bags, which normally use smaller pieces of leaves, release caffeine much faster than whole leaves.

Although the benefits of tea on human health have not yet been fully tested, the results of research and study until studies conducted so far are very positive and show that the ancient Chinese beliefs were based on scientific truths.

molecola di EGCG

A molecule of Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

Research on tea properties

An article in the New Scientist states that numerous studies suggest that green tea protects against a range of cancers, including lung, prostate and breast cancer. The reason cited, according to Hirofumi Tachibana's team at Kyushu University, is the antioxidant known as EpiGalloCatechin Gallate (EGCG). Their research showed that cell growth of a human lung cancer in a receptor called 67 LR is slowed down significantly in people who drink just two or three cups of green tea (which contains EGCG) per day. The research also showed that 67 LR is involved in the spread of diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (linked to the "mad cow" disease in animals).

White tea has been reported as more effective, based on preliminary work by the team of Santana-Rios.

Another study reported in an article called Carcinogenesis"" on Life Science has shown that green tea in combination with Tamoxifen, is effective in suppressing the growth of breast cancer in vitro, and in animal experiments conducted on mice also in vivo. A study of Taiwan's Chung Shan Medical University found that people who drink at least one cup of green tea a day were five times less likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not drink it.

foglia di tè On the other hand, the "anti-tumor" effect of green tea against gastric cancer has been contradicted by a prospective large-scale, population-based study in Japan, involving more than 26,000 residents. Many studies have suggested an inverse relationship between green tea consumption and gastric cancer. Further evaluations are therefore necessary to evaluate the role of green tea in the reduction of gastric cancer.

The topical application of the green tea extract (EGCG) has an apparently protective effect on skin damage induced by UVA-UVB (photoaging and carcinogenesis).

In a July 2005 review of the statements made about the benefits of green tea on health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that it is highly unlikely that green tea reduces the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. The FDA believes that evidence does not support qualified statements on possible health benefits or a reduced risk of cancer incidence caused by the consumption of green tea.