Green tea tones down digestive cancer risk in women

Massacres, parties and taxes -- tea has spurred a lot of movements, but the latest may be by far the most intriguing.

According to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers, green tea may be an antidote for certain digestive system cancers in women, especially malignancies known to affect the stomach, esophagus and colorectum regions.

Women enrolled in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study -- a population-based investigation into the lives of 75,000 middle-aged/older Chinese women -- presented the base by which the Vanderbilt-Ingram team framed their experiment. Each participant was queried regarding whether she drank tea, the kind of tea consumed and the amount consumed; green tea was the most commonly reported.

Following an analysis of all responses, researchers discovered that consistent tea consumption (at least three times a week for more than six months) could be linked to a 17 percent decrease in developing any kind of digestive cancer. And the more persistent the consumption, the more risk decreased -- those who drank two to three cups of tea daily (at least 150 grams of tea monthly) saw their chances decline by 21 percent. These more consistent tea drinkers were found to be younger, higher educated, suitably fit and tenacious eaters of fruits and vegetables.

Of course percentages increased when applied to specific digestive cancers, rather than all cancers combined.

"For all digestive system cancers combined, the risk was reduced by 27 percent among women who had been drinking tea regularly for at least 20 years," said lead author Sarah Nechuta, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, in a news release. "For colorectal cancer, risk was reduced by 29 percent among the long-term tea drinkers. These results suggest long-term cumulative exposure may be particularly important."

This elixir effect was associated with the presence of catechins, like EGCG and ECG often found within tea. Due to their antioxidant components, catechins are thought to impede cancer through the halting of tumor cell development and the reduction of DNA detriment.

Women who had ever smoked or drank alcohol were denied entrance into the study’s subject pool. Occupation, education, diet and physicality were all taken into consideration for the study, and were applied as possible contributing factors for the decreased risk.

Results were published in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.