Can Green Tea Really Prevent Cancer?
by Marcus Stout
In recent years, green tea has received a lot of attention for its purported ability to prevent, and possibly even treat, cancer. But, is all the hype really meaningful? Can green tea really help in our battle to wipe out cancer?
Well, apparently the answer is yes. It seems that one of the most important tools that we have in our cancer preventing tool box is anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are very effective at combating free radicals that are created in our bodies as we process food.
The free radicals produced by our bodiesí damage our cells and our DNA, and eventually lead to disease if we donít combat them. Anti-oxidants are our most important defense against the damage of free radicals. One way that we can help prevent cancer is to eat a diet that is full of anti-oxidants.
Where Can I Find Anti-oxidants?
Anti-oxidants occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. They are also in abundance in the Camellia sinensis plant, which just happens to be the tea plant.
So, to help reduce your risk of cancer, your diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables and tea. But, why is all the discussion about the health benefits of green tea, and not tea in general?
The answer is in the processing. Black tea is fermented during processing; this processing converts the natural anti-oxidants into another state, reducing their health benefits. Green tea is not fermented, and goes through less processing in general, so it retains more of the anti-oxidants in their natural state. This is why it is recommended that you consume green tea for your health.
What proof is there that it really prevents cancer?
There have been many studies in recent years that have supported the theory that green tea prevents cancer. One important study was conducted by the Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan. This study showed that when mice were fed EGCG (the most potent anti-oxidant in green tea) from green tea, the EGCG showed up in the organs where the cancer was located, and appeared to have an effect on the cancer cells.
Further, a study on breast cancer patients showed that a high daily intake of green tea was associated with a lower recurrence rate among breast cancer patients in Stages I and II.
There are many other studies that lead to the conclusion that green tea is beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cancer, particularly certain types of cancer.
So, just how much green tea do I need?
One question that often arises about the consumption of green tea for health benefits is just how much is required to make a difference. Well, itís a very good question, and one for which we donít have a definitive answer.
Though thereís no prescription for an amount of green tea that will reduce your risk of cancer, or treat your cancer once itís occurred, we do believe that you should drink quite a bit if youíre doing so for health benefits.
The reason that researchers wondered if green tea might be healthful in the first place was because of the low incidence of cancer in Asian cultures. And, in these cultures, the consumption of green tea is very high.
It is estimated that in China, most people drink 4-5 cups of tea per day. In Japan, the consumption is even higher, with many Japanese drinking 8-10 cups per day. In Japan, green tea is available in vending machines and many Japanese keep a bottle of this favorite beverage with them nearly all the time.
Now, if this sounds like too much green tea for you, start slowly. Even drinking 2-3 cups a day may be beneficial for your health. You can work your way up to larger quantities over time.
Many people wonder if iced green tea is as beneficial as hot tea. And, the answer is yes; there is no difference in the health benefits whether you drink your tea hot or iced.
In addition, many people wonder about drinking flavored green teas. Green tea in its natural state has a bit of a grassy flavor that is unpleasant to some. So, many tea purveyors mix the green tea with fruit flavors to enhance the taste, and itís just as healthy as drinking green tea straight.
My personal favorite right now is Republic of Teaís Pomegranate Green tea. Itís delicious and I get the anti-oxidant benefits of both green tea and pomegranates.
There still much research thatís needed about the health benefits of drinking green tea. Hopefully, in a few years, weíll know exactly how much we should drink and exactly what we can protect ourselves against, and what diseases we can treat with green tea. But for now, at least we can be confident that green tea is good for us, giving us an extra dose of those healthful anti-oxidants that keep us young and healthy.