Drink to Your Health! Green tea may protect against colon cancer

A new study has found that consumption of moderate amounts of green tea might provide a protection against colon tumours about as well as a prescription drug, sulindac, that has been shown to be effective for that purpose. Scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University tested both green and white tea and the drug sulindac on mice genetically predisposed to cancer. It may suggest some optional approaches to cancer prevention or therapy, especially for people who have trouble with the side effects that can be associated with regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as sulindac or aspirin.

“Teas exert significant protective effects in experimental animal models of skin, lung, esophageal, gastric, hepatic, small intestinal, pancreatic, colon, bladder and mammary cancer,” said Gayle Orner, a research associate.

The group of mice that received no treatment each developed about 30 polyps in their colons. But consumption of green tea, the scientists found, reduced the number of tumours in the mice from an average of 30 to 17; and consumption of white tea from an average of 30 to 13. Mice given both sulindac and white tea, in combination, saw a tumour reduction of about 80%, from 30 tumours to six.

Consumption of black tea does not appear to the have the same anti-cancer properties in some situations as green or white tea, the researchers said. White tea, the least processed of all teas, has the highest levels of polyphenols and antioxidants, and is available at specialty tea stores and some natural products stores.

Linus Pauling Institute, Mar 3, 2003