Cancer is a complex, devastating illness which is responsible for the deaths of millions of people each year. For decades, scientists have been attempting to uncover some of the secrets of cancer in order to find a cure. While, so far, a cure has been out of reach, there appear to be some natural remedies which can prevent or slow cancer growth. One of those remedies is a beverage which is commonplace in many Asian households–tea.
The History of an Anti-Cancer Tool
Tea has been a dietary staple for 500,000 years. People in India and Green Tea China appear to be among the first to have enjoyed this beloved beverage. But it’s one variety in particular–Camellia sinensis–which appears to have a number of health benefits associated with it. That variety is also known as green tea.
What Makes Green Tea Special
Green tea is unique in that it is produced from unfermented leaves and it contains a high concentration of polyphenols, which are chemicals that can serve as antioxidants. Antioxidants are essentially on a search-and-destroy mission against free radicals, compounds which compromise DNA and destroy cells. Free radicals are often to blame for the development of cancer as well as heart disease. The antioxidants immobilize free radicals and inhibit the damage often associated with them.
Medicinal Uses of Green Tea
For years, Asians have used green tea to promote a healthy lifestyle. It helps to promote good digestion, improve concentration, and promote the excretion of urine. In addition, a number of studies in human beings, animals, and in laboratories suggest that green tea can be effective in combating a number of ailments.
Green Tea’s Effect on Cancer of the Pancreas and Colon
In an article entitled, “Green Tea Consumption and the Risk of Pancreatic and Colorectal Cancers,” researchers B.T. Ji, W.H. Chow, A.W. Hsing, J.K. McLaughlin, Q. Dai, Y.T. Gao, W.J. Blot, and J.F. Fraumeni, Jr. examined the question of green tea’s effectiveness as an antidote to certain types of cancers.
The Columbia University researchers conceded that the effect of green tea on cancer risk is uncertain, although a number of animal studies seem to indicate a positive effect.
In order to test the hypothesis that drinking green tea can, in fact, lessen cancer risk, the researchers conducted an extensive study in Shanghai, China in order to see whether green tea consumption had any impact on cancers of the colon, rectum, and pancreas.
The research team found that the greater the consumption of green tea, the lesser the risk of cancer. As a result, it appears that green tea may, in fact, lower the incidence of both colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Yet, it should be noted that other similar studies have produced conflicting results. As a result, scientists recommend additional research before a definitive statement can be made about green tea as a colorectal cancer prevention tool.
As far as pancreatic cancer is concerned, another study showed that those individuals who consumed the most green tea were far less likely to develop the disease. It appears that the reduced risk is most pronounced in women, who cut their pancreatic cancer rate in half by drinking large amounts of green tea.
In contrast, male green tea drinkers were 37 percent less likely to develop the disease. However, it should be noted that it is impossible to tell from this particular study whether green tea was solely responsible for cutting pancreatic cancer risk.
Green Tea and Other Cancers
But what about other cancers? How effective has green tea been in preventing other forms of the disease? To begin with, cancer rates are often lower in Japan and other Black Tea nations where green tea consumption is high. Animal studies also indicate that the polyphenols in green tea are effective antioxidants which kill cancerous cells, stopping them in their tracks.
A study of bladder cancer patients found that those who consumed green tea had a much better five-year survival rate than cancer patients who did not drink the beverage. In addition, animal studies appear to confirm that the chemicals in green tea stop the growth of breast cancer cells.