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Green Tea May Protect
Against Heart Attack
Excerpt By Merritt McKinney, Reuter's Health

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research from Japan suggests that drinking green tea every day may be good for the heart. Although people in the study who drank one or more cups of green tea were no less likely to have artery disease than people who did not drink tea, they were much less likely to have a heart attack.

"What we found was that was less prevalent in green tea drinkers, suggesting that regular green tea intake may be playing a protective role against the development of in Japanese," the study's lead author, Dr. Yukihiko Momiyama of the National Defense Medical College in Saitama, told Reuters Health.

Green tea is becoming more and more popular in the US and other Western countries, but the drink is the most common beverage in Japan, according to Momiyama. Heart disease is less common in Japan than in the West, and researchers have been trying to figure out why.

Although there are probably many factors that explain the difference in heart disease rates, some scientists suspect that green tea may boost heart health because it contains high levels of substances called flavonoids. These plant compounds, which are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as in tea and red wine, are thought to boost health in part by combating oxidation, a process in which cell-damaging substances called free radicals accumulate. Oxidative damage can be caused by outside factors, such as cigarette smoking, or by factors on the cellular level. Oxidation is suspected of increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and several other diseases.

Several studies have found that people who consume lots of flavonoids are less likely to die from coronary artery disease, and another study linked high flavonoid consumption to a reduced risk of heart attack.

In the new study, Momiyama's team did not detect a link between the number of cups of green tea a person drank each day and the risk of coronary artery disease or the severity of artery disease. However, people who drank green tea were less likely to have a heart attack, the authors report in the November 15th issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. In the study, people who drank at least one cup of green tea per day were 42% less likely to have a heart attack than people who did not drink green tea.

The people in the study did not represent a cross-section of the Japanese population. The 393 patients were undergoing a procedure called angiography to see whether they had coronary artery disease. Many of the participants had risk factors for heart and artery disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology 2002;90:1150-1153.


Reference Source 89

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