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Green Tea May Reduce
Breast Cancer Risk
By Suzanne Rostler

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Compounds in green tea may help protect women against breast cancer, preliminary study findings suggest.

Investigators found that rats who drank water containing green tea had reductions in the size and malignancy of breast tumors compared with rats that drank only water. Additionally, the tumors of tea-drinking rats developed later and were less invasive.

While more research needs to be conducted, the findings, coupled with observations of lower rates of breast cancer in countries where green tea is consumed daily, suggest that green tea may benefit women as part of an overall healthy diet.

``I know of no major detrimental side effects when consuming 3 to 5 cups of green tea per day. Thus, I see no problems in drinking green tea now for prevention,'' Dr. Gail Sonenshein, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

Although data from animal studies cannot always be generalized to humans, the findings ``suggest that green tea can be protective against breast cancer induced by environmental carcinogens,'' added Sonenshein, a professor of biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health in Massachusetts.

However, patients who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for breast cancer should consult with their doctors before drinking large amounts of green tea, she noted.

According to the report in the July issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, polyphenols, compounds that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals. These cell-damaging molecules occur naturally in the body and are linked with heart disease, aging and a number of other disorders.

Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40% polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among US women, according to the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Journal of Cellular Biochemistry July 2001.


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