Tea and cancer prevention: Epidemiological studies

Tea and cancer prevention: Epidemiological studies

Author: Jian-Min Yuan and Canlan Sun and Lesley M. Butler

Experimental studies have consistently shown the inhibitory activities of tea extracts on tumorigenesis in multiple model systems. Epidemiological studies, however, have produced inconclusive results in humans. A comprehensive review was conducted to assess the current knowledge on tea consumption and risk of cancers in humans. In general, consumption of black tea was not associated with lower risk of cancer. High intake of green tea was consistently associated with reduced risk of upper gastrointestinal tract cancers after sufficient control for confounders. Limited data support a protective effect of green tea on lung and hepatocellular carcinogenesis. Although observational studies do not support a beneficial role of tea intake on prostate cancer risk, phase II clinical trials have demonstrated an inhibitory effect of green tea extract against the progression of prostate pre-malignant lesions. Green tea may exert beneficial effects against mammary carcinogenesis in premenopausal women and recurrence of breast cancer. There is no sufficient evidence that supports a protective role of tea intake on the development of cancers of the colorectum, pancreas, urinary tract, glioma, lymphoma, and leukemia. Future prospective observational studies with biomarkers of exposure and phase III clinical trials are required to provide definitive evidence for the hypothesized beneficial effect of tea consumption on cancer formation in humans.


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