Taiwanese Study Shows that Green Tea Consumption Lowers the Risk of Lung Cancer.
A study published in January of 2010 shows that green tea consumption is inversely related to the development of cancerous tumors in human lung tissue. Put simply, this means that people who drink or eat green tea seem to be far less likely to develop lung cancer, whether they are cigarette smokers or not.
The researchers followed a group of 510 patients, 170 of which had been previously diagnosed with lung cancer. They then asked each patient a series of questions about his or her green tea intake, smoking habits, dietary habits, and other lifestyle factors. They also screened each patient for genetic predispositions to lung cancer.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that patients who drank at least one cup of green tea each day were five times less likely to develop lung cancer than patients who did not, even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors. Even more interestingly, the researchers found that smokers who drank green tea were thirteen times less likely to develop lung tumors than smokers who did not drink green tea.
However, the researchers also stressed that while green tea may prevent smokers from developing tumors, smoking is still a major health risk whether green tea is consumed or not. Green tea drinkers who were also non-smokers are still far less likely to get lung cancer than green tea drinkers who smoked; hence, while drinking green tea certainly has health benefits, it should not be taken as a license to smoke tobacco without fear.
The researchers also found that even in patients with a genetic predisposition to lung cancer, drinking green tea greatly reduced the risk of developing new lung tumors.
Other earlier reports also seem to confirm these results. For example, a report published in 1992 by Japanese researchers shows that mice treated with potent toxins from tobacco smoke develop cancer at a slower rate if they are also given a supplement of green tea or extracted EGCg (the primary compound found in green tea). In the report, mice given the toxins alone developed an average of 22.5 lung tumors, while mice given the toxins along with green tea developed an average of 12.2 lung tumors per mouse, a nearly 50% reduction.
A 2007 study found similar results in laboratory based tests with isolated human lung cancer cells. In this study, the cancer cells were subjected to incubation with EGCg, the main component of green tea. The researchers found that the cancer cells were unable to reproduce in the same way as before and were greatly inhibited, indicating that EGCg might be effective in stopping or slowing the spread of lung cancer.
Although further research is certainly needed, these three reports indicate that green tea, and in particular the compound known as EGCg, may be effective in preventing lung cancer, stemming its spread, or both. This is good news for green tea drinkers, as EGCg is widely available in brewed green tea. However, it should also be noted that EGCg is as much as 100 times more concentrated in the whole tea leaves out of which green tea is brewed. For this reason, some people are now considering adopting traditional Asian dishes, which make use of whole green tea leaves as an ingredient.
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