An October 8th USA Today article explores research linking tea and health. Tea has been associated with health benefits for thousands of years and yet, scientists have only begun to recognize and investigate these benefits over the past thirty years. In a recent study, reported in the July issue of the journal Life Sciences, green tea and black tea when substituted for drinking water, inhibited the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in mice. In addition, topical application and ingestion of green tea polyphenols, compounds with the antioxidant activity, protected against skin cancer in mice.
One of the most fascinating things about tea, according to co-author of the study, Hasan Mukhtar, vice chair of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is that “there is no other product known that has such diversified effects.” Green tea seems to have more health prestige than black tea, perhaps because it has been the focus of more research. Although not as well studied as green tea, black tea may be, in fact, as beneficial, says Mukhtar, who drinks two cups of black tea and two cups of green tea a day.
Furthermore, human clinical trials, conducted by Iman Hakim, a professor the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona, found that compounds in green tea had a positive affect on genes involved in cancer susceptibility and DNA repair. In addition, an ongoing clinical trial of current and former smokers with chronic pulmonary disease, demonstrated that those who were given green tea instead of a placebo drink experienced a significant improvement in HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
The article also examines work done by John Foxe, professor of neuroscience, biology and psychology at City College of the City University of New York. Foxe is investigating theanine, which unlike the polyphenols found in tea, can cross the blood/brain barrier. According to Foxe, people who drank a solution with theanine equivalent to 10 cups of tea were able to focus better than those who drank the placebo solution.
Now that’s some three bodies of research worth talking about…
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