By: Jeffrey Lorien
A recent study done by the American Institute for Cancer Research showed that a substance in green tea actually halted a specific stage of the cancer process and was even more effective than certain cancer drugs. Studies done on liver, skin and stomach cancer showed that green and black teas decreased the size of tumors and slowed or helped reverse some breast, colon and prostate cancers, as well.
One group of scientists is focusing efforts on researching the powerful antioxidants called “catechins” that are naturally occurring substances in various tea plants. Catechins play a powerful, still somewhat mysterious role in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and keeping them from spreading to other parts of the body. Other groups of researchers continue to study the effect of tea constituents on the various stages of development of various cancers, and the literature is beginning to fill up with clear, compelling evidence of their efficacy and safety.
The emerging science in this area appears to validate much of the anecdotal evidence concerning the healing properties of tea, which is a very important development. Not all “ancient cures” and “folk remedies” have proven to be effective, and no responsible supplement manufacturer should be making claims that are not backed up by sold science. Cultural patterns are important to study, as well, as one needs to understand the role of healing foods in certain countries and cultures in order to develop diet and wellness plans – ones that incorporate those foods and, perhaps, other supplements as needed.
In America, for example, tea is reputed to be the greatest source of catechins in the average diet. Part of this is attributable to the fact that green tea, in general, undergoes less processing than other teas. It can contain three times the catechins of black or white teas. In fact, if the kind of tea being discussed in an article or study is not specified, it is more likely than not green tea.
Doing your homework
It is important to stay educated on health matters, of course, which means one has to be ready for findings to be confirmed, contradicted or revised by more recent research. The only way you will know what is old news and what is current science is by taking the responsibility for continuing education about the foods and supplements you are adding to your diet for health reasons.
For a number of years, many health practitioners have recommended drinking six cups of tea per day as a way to maximize its health benefits. However, studies are now showing that measurable heath benefits, including cancer prevention, can be achieved by consuming only 1-2 cups of tea per day. Of course, you can take your green tea in the form of extract, which is added to pills, powders and other preparations. Be careful to calculate the right amount for your purposes, and drink (or otherwise ingest) what you and your medical advisor deem appropriate for your health, present condition and wellness goals.
The main factor in receiving the true health benefits of tea, as with any other supplement, is consistency. In fact, when long-term effects are studied, it can be demonstrated that even the consumption of less potent black, oolong and white teas over a period of several years can also offer some protection from cancer and other diseases. This is why these substances must be considered part of a “life plan,” not a short-term fix or a temporary treatment.
The future of cancer/tea research
With the number and quality of research studies on tea increasing worldwide, there is much that will be discovered in the near future about the specific properties of the catechins, polyphenols and other cancer-fighting ingredients of tea, green tea in particular. This makes it more important than ever for you to get your information from trusted, peer-reviewed sources. No matter how honest and science-based a tea or supplement manufacturer is, none would ever advise you against investigating original sources on your own for corroboration of any health claims.
Scientists in China, Russia, the UK, the U.S. and other countries are hard at work even now, attempting to qualify and quantify the curative, restorative and regenerative capabilities of tea and its constituents. Your best move in the meantime is to stay educated, discuss your condition and your health goals with trusted, informed medical advisors, and take responsibility for safeguarding your health and life, and that of your loved ones and family.
Cancer is a major killer in the Western world, and anything that can protect you from this disease should be included, post haste, in the diet portion of your overall “life/health” plan. Don’t forget that nutrition is just one part of your balanced healthy-living program. Exercise, sufficient rest and the reduction of “stressors” in your life are all important parts, too.
Do not fall into the trap of believing that you can do whatever you want, eat whatever you want and ignore whatever you want, and simply fill up on green tea and mung beans to counteract the negativity. When it comes to your health, particularly in regards to cancer, you need to be persistent, consistent and insistent about your wellbeing. Adopt this attitude toward tea and it will do you a great deal of good.
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