Drinking Tea May Offer Health Benefits, but Evidence Still Limited by Mayo Clinic Health Letter
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
ROCHESTER, Minn. - Tea drinkers who opt for black, oolong, green
or white teas may find that these beverages offer health benefits.
The April issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers what is - and
isn't - known about the health effects of drinking tea.
Black, oolong, green or white teas have a common origin. Each is
produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. The leaves
are loaded with flavonoids and other polyphenols that work as
antioxidants, possibly lowering the risk of some diseases.
While numerous studies have found possible benefits, the actual
benefits of drinking tea are not certain. Most research about tea's
benefits is based on population (epidemiological) studies. Findings
are limited because factors other than tea consumption could
influence the results. Here's some of what's known about tea's
Cardiovascular: It's still uncertain if drinking tea over long
periods might positively affect cholesterol levels, blood pressure
and atherosclerosis. There's some early evidence that regularly
drinking green tea may reduce heart attack risk or atherosclerosis.
There's conflicting evidence on black tea consumption and heart
attack risk reduction.
Cancer: It's still unknown whether regular black tea consumption
influences cancer rates. Early lab tests with white tea indicate it
may protect against colon cancer in particular. So far,
well-designed studies haven't proven this.
Bone and joint health: Early laboratory research indicates green
tea could be beneficial in reducing inflammation related to
arthritis and slowing cartilage breakdown. Some early data indicate
that regular tea consumption might improve bone mineral density in
Memory: Studies are limited, but a recent one found that older
adults in Japan who drank green tea daily showed less risk of
memory difficulty, compared with those who didn't drink tea
While there's still much to learn about tea's health benefits,
the potential benefits seem to be in the cup, not in supplements or
tea extract capsules. So far, there's no certainty that the
compounds in supplements are the same ones in tea, and even less
certainty that these supplements might provide the same potential
health benefits as tea.
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