By Michelle Fletcher, B.A.
Used as a medicine in China for over 4,000 years, green tea’s known medical benefits range from curing headaches to depression. The world of alternative medicine can now add “breast cancer prevention” to the long list of benefits.
Scientific Evidence Linking Green Tea to Cancer Prevention
Scientific research in the United States, Europe, and Asia has proven evidence that green tea may help prevent breast cancer. Back in 1994, a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer by 60 percent in Chinese men and women. Countless other studies have been published over the past 10 years that validate green tea’s potential in lowering the risk of many types of cancer—including breast cancer.
The Department of Epidemiology at the Saitama Center Research Institute has found conclusive evidence that green tea helped decrease recurrence of stage I and II breast cancer in Japanese patients. According to the 1998 study, “Our results indicate that increased consumption of green tea prior to clinical cancer onset is significantly associated with improved prognosis of stage I and II breast cancer, and this association may be related to a modifying effect of green tea on the clinical characteristics of the cancer.” Crude green tea extract, called EGCG has been reported to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, according to the study.
Comparing Green Tea with Black Tea
Furthermore, a University of Minnesota research study has provided evidence that women who drink green tea regularly are at a lower risk for producing breast cancer carcinogens (substances that increase the risk of developing abnormal tissue growth in the body). “The results of this meta-analysis indicate a lower risk for breast cancer with green tea consumption.”
Black tea—the favorite tea choice of most Westerners—may not provide the same benefits as its Asian cousin. “Five cohort studies demonstrated a modest increase in risk [for breast cancer] associated with black tea intake.” Black tea shows no protection from breast cancer, but still provides other positive health effects.
The Health Benefits of Green Tea and Brewing Techniques
Still, green tea’s effect upon preventing breast cancer is enough of a reason to head to the grocery store. The powerful antioxidant EGCG present in those little green leaves inhibit the growth of cancer cells, help lower LDL cholesterol, and even inhibit the abnormal formation of blood clots.
Just like the art of coffee, there is an art to brewing that perfect cup of tea. In order to retain the most possible antioxidant effects of the herb and enjoy its unique flavor, follow these steps to brew that perfect cup:
- Use one tea bag per cup. If using loose tea, measure out 2-4 grams of tea.
- Fill a tea kettle with cold water—bring to a boil.
- After turning off the stove or kettle, allow the boiling water to stand for 3 minutes.
- Pour the hot water over the teabag, into the cup.
- Allow the teabag to steep for 3 minutes, and then remove it.
- You may wish to wait for the water to cool an additional 3-5 minutes before indulging.
Nakachi K, Suemasu K, Suga K, Takeo K, Imai K, Higashi Y. Influence of drinking green tea on breast cancer malignancy among Japanese patients. Japan Journal of Cancer Research. 1998 Mar;89(3):254-61.
carcinogens. Dictionary.com. On-line Medical Dictionary, Academic Medical Publishing & CancerWEB. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/carcinogens (accessed: November 02, 2006).
Sun CL, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Yu MC. Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Jul;27(7):1310-5. Epub 2005 Nov 25.
Sun CL. 1.