Cancer is the second cause of death worldwide, after heart disease. Many of us adopt healthy lifestyles to reduce our risk of developing cancer. Some of our live-well strategies include a low-fat-high fiber diet, daily exercise, and moderate (or zero) alcohol consumption. Many add a round of vitamins (C, A, D, E) with or without reason. And many add "natural" antioxidants, one of which is green tea. But is green tea effective in preventing cancer?
In the review of 51 studies totaling1.6 million participants, researchers looked for an association between green tea consumption and the prevention of various cancers, including mouth, digestive tract, lung, breast, cervical, uterine, bladder, and prostate.
But investigators could not come to a definite cause-to-effect relationship between drinking green tea and cancer prevention. (1)
On the positive side, green tea contains less caffeine than regular tea and "appears to be safe at moderate, regular and habitual use."
Yet, a word of warning: green tea contains small amounts of vitamin K, which can make anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin, less effective.
While green tea has been shown ineffective in inducing weigh loss, studies are ongoingto learn more about the components in green tea and their effects on diabetes and heart disease. (2)
So, go ahead and enjoy your cup of green tea, but when it comes to cancer prevention, keep watching your food choices and your activity patterns. And--as a friendly reminder-- don't smoke, neither cigarettes nor marijuana!
(1) Boehm K, Borrelli F, Ernst E, Habacher G, Hung SK, Milazzo S, Horneber M. Green tea (Camellia sinensis) for the prevention of cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews2009, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005004. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005004.pub2.
(2) National Center for Complemenatry and Alternative Medicine.