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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Two Cups of Tea a Day May Keep Ovarian Cancer Away

A study reported in the December 12–26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that in women who drink at least 2 cups of green or black tea each day, the risk of ovarian cancer drops by an astounding 46%, dropping by 18% more with each extra cup consumed. Here's the scoop, as told on WebMD:

Researchers found the more tea women drank, the lower their risk of ovarian cancer. Women who drank at least 2 cups of tea per day had a 46% lower risk of ovarian cancer compared with non–tea-drinkers; each additional cup of tea was associated with an 18% lower risk of ovarian cancer.

Several studies have suggested that both green and black tea may protect against various cancers. But researchers say this is the first study to look specifically at the relationship between drinking tea and the risk of ovarian cancer.

Drinking Tea May Prevent Ovarian Cancer
In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers compared tea consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer in more than 60,000 women aged 40 to 76 in Sweden.

The women filled out questionnaires on food and beverages they consumed regularly; the participants were followed for about 15 years. About two-thirds of the women said they drank tea at least once a month.
During the follow-up period, 301 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and researchers found tea drinking was associated with lowered ovarian cancer risk.

Women who drank at least 2 cups of tea per day were half as likely to develop ovarian cancer as nondrinkers; those who drank at least 1 cup of tea a day had a 24% lower risk.

Researchers say each additional cup of tea over 2 cups per day was associated with an additional 18% reduction in ovarian cancer risk.
They say the ovarian cancer prevention benefits also extended to women who drank coffee in addition to tea.

Although animal studies have suggested black and green tea contain potent anticancer compounds, researchers say more studies are needed to confirm the relationship between tea and cancer.

I've been drinking green tea for years, because of both its good taste and what was then its unproven ability to stop cancer. I also savor white tea, which is less processed than green tea (which in turn is less processed than black tea). It has a very delicate flavor and very likely has even higher concentrations of beneficial compounds such as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). This article by researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute (named a Center of Excellence for Research On Complementary and Alternative Medicine by the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine) of Oregon State University explains.

And for those of you who are medicine geeks like me, here's more of the science behind the study, as reported by Medscape (free subscription required for access):

During an average follow-up of 15.1 years, there were 301 incident cases of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer. After controlling for potential confounders, tea consumption was inversely associated with ovarian cancer risk (P for trend, .03). Compared with women who never drank tea or drank it less than monthly, those who consumed less than 1 cup per day, 1 cup per day, and 2 or more cups per day had multivariate hazard ratios (HRs) of 0.82 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62–1.08), 0.76 (95% CI, 0.56–1.04), and 0.54 (95% CI, 0.31–0.91), respectively. Each additional cup of tea consumed per day was associated with an 18% reduction in risk for ovarian cancer (multivariate HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.68–0.99).

"These results suggest that tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in a dose-response manner," the [study's] authors write. "This association does not depend on lower coffee consumption among women with high tea consumption; coffee is not associated with ovarian cancer risk in this cohort." ...

Green and black tea polyphenols (such as catechins, theaflavins, and flavanols) have been studied as chemopreventive agents for cancer and in animal models have been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis of several organ sites, according to the authors. Tea polyphenols may protect against cancer because of their strong antioxidant activity or inhibition of cell growth, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. According to the authors, case-control and populations studies have yielded inconsistent results with respect to the protective effect on ovarian cancer. This is a prospective, observational, longitudinal, population-based study to examine the association between tea drinking and incident ovarian cancer in women for an average of 15 years of follow-up. The study was part of the Swedish Mammography Cohort study established between 1987 and 1990.

The best teas are from whole tea leaves, not from tea bags. I like to get mine from SpecialTeas. (Sometime after I wrote this post, that company was bought out by Teavana, a company I don't patronize. I now get most of my teas from Adagio Teas and TeaSource.)

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