For more than 5000 years, tea has been an integral part of tradition in countries like India and China. This beverage is considered to be full of health benefits in these two cultures. Nowadays, more research is being conducted on tea to study whether it contains any properties that could serve as a treatment or preventative measure against different types of cancer. Tea contains an antioxidant known as catechins which researchers are especially interested in.
What Are Antioxidants?
Oxidants are unstable molecules that are constantly produced by the human body. They are also known as free radicals. In order to stabilize themselves, these free radicals take away electrons from other molecules present in the body, damaging genetic material and cell proteins in the process. The damage caused to the cell may leave it with a high risk for cancer. Antioxidants are the substances in the human body that allow it to “capture” oxidants. The catechins present in tea, similar to other antioxidants, have the ability to specifically inhibit enzyme activities that can cause cancer. They may also be able to help in targeting and repairing DNA aberrations that are caused by the oxidants present in the body.
How High Is The Level Of Antioxidants In Green Tea?
Black and green teas are the two main types of this beverage. Because green tea is not as processed as black tea, it may be the reason that it has significantly higher levels of antioxidants. A study showed that steeping tea for about 5 minutes could release more than 80% of the catechins that it contains. These antioxidants are present only in small quantities in commercial tea products such as instant iced teas.
What Are The Results Found In Laboratories For Cancer Prevention And Tea?
Studies conducted in laboratories have shown that the catechins present in tea can inhibit cancer growth in more than one way. Firstly, oxidants can be scavenged by them before cells can be damaged. Tumors that have been induced chemically can be reduced in size and occurrence by catechins. Tumor cell growth is also effectively inhibited by them. In studies conducted on stomach, skin and liver cancers, the size of tumors induced chemically were shown to decrease in mice that were fed both black and green tea.
The results of studies conducted on humans vary and there have been opposing opinions on whether tea can stop the growth of cancer. Factors such as differences in number of population, environment and diet could be a reason why tests in different countries have varying results. However, many experts agree that the antioxidants present in tea are powerful and this is exactly why researchers are looking into it and studying if they can prevent cancer.
What Have Studies On Green Tea Shown?
In a recent study on green tea, researchers found a compound known as EGCg has the ability to inhibit an enzyme that is necessary for the growth of cancer cells. Cultured cancer cells can also be killed without causing any adverse effects on cells that are healthy by this enzyme. These findings suggest that daily consumption of over 4 cups of green tea could provide the human body with enough of the EGCg compound to slow down or prevent cancer cell growth.
As mentioned earlier, green tea is processed differently to black tea. To produce black tea, tea leaves are left indoors to wither and oxidize. On the other hand, green tea is not oxidized. Instead, tea leaves go through steaming and parching so that leaves’ natural substances are preserved more effectively. This means that everything that is good in the leaves is not destroyed during the processing stage.
Antioxidants are well-known for their health benefits. They are necessary for the cleansing of free radicals and other toxins in the body. They have wonderful benefits for skin as well, which is why many health experts recommend drinking tea, especially the green variety. You can benefit immensely from tea and the fact that it could prevent cancer growth is an added bonus.
More studies are being conducted on green tea and you can be sure that researchers will find more benefits that come with drinking this popular beverage. With its great effects on skin and health, there is nothing like enjoying a few cups a day.