Tea and reducing the risk of Cancer

Drinking tea high in antioxidants may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers by combating the activity of free radicals and inhibiting uncontrolled cell growth.


It is believed that free radicals can cause heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes.  


Evidence suggests that tea may have a role in reducing the risk of cancer. 

Tea and inhibiting the growth of tumours

Tea has been shown to inhibit tumorigenesis at the initiation, promotion and progression stages of cancer. (Middleton E, et al (1994), Dreosti IE, et al (1997), Katiyar SK, et al (1996))

Green Tea and developing potential anti-cancer drugs 

Researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain and the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, report that EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) prevents cancer cells from growing by binding to a specific enzyme. 


“This is a very exciting discovery” said Professor Roger Thorneley (leader of the JIC team). “For the first time we have a clear scientific explanation of why EGCG [3] inhibits the growth of cancer cells at concentrations which are found in the blood of people who drink 2 or 3 cups of Green Tea a day. We have identified the enzyme in tumour cells that EGCG targets and understand how it stops this enzyme from making DNA. This means we may be able to develop new anticancer drugs based on the structure of the EGCG molecule. . . We have shown for the first time that EGCG, which is present in Green Tea at relatively high concentrations, inhibits the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), which is a recognized, established target for anti-cancer drugs. This is the first time, to our knowledge, a known target for an anti-cancer drug has been identified as being inhibited by EGCG and EGCG is probably just one of a number of anti-cancer mechanisms in Green Tea "

Tea and breast cancer

In Japan over a 10 year period, drinking three or more cups of Green Tea a day was shown to reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. (Cancer Lett. 2001, 167,175-82).


The Saitama Cancer Research Institute in Japan showed that women with a history of breast cancer who drank five cups of tea daily were 50% less likely to have a recurrence than women who drank none or less than five cups per day. (BMJ no. 7168 (7th Nov ’98) p1330).

Tea and stomach cancer

People who drink one to three cups of Green Tea daily had a 30% lower rate of stomach cancer, those who drank more than three cups had a 61% lower rate.

Tea and skin cancer

Green Tea taken orally or applied directly to the skin can reduce the damage from ultraviolet light, which can lead to skin cancer.

Tea and ovarian cancer

An Australian study of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer found that the risk of ovarian cancer declined both with the more tea they drank and the longer they had been drinking it. Those who drank tea daily had 39% of the risk (compared to non tea drinkers) and those who drank tea for more than 30 years had a 23% risk. (Cancer Epidemio Biomarkers Prev 2002; 11: 713-18).

Tea and colon cancer

A study in China has shown that men who drink at least 1 cup of Green Tea per week for 6 months have a reduced risk of cancer of the colon, rectum or pancreas (Int. J. Cancer 1997, 70, 255-258).


BBC News - Green Tea extract 'is cancer aid'


Tea and Parkinson's Disease

In an Israeli study of people with Parkinson’s Disease, research suggests that patients who drank more than 3 cups of tea per day had a significant delay in the age of onset of the disease - by more than 7 years. It may be down to the free-radical scavenging phenolic compounds in tea exerting a neuroprotective effect. “This is the first study to investigate the effect of tea drinking on the age of onset of PD motor symptoms. Although a small study, these results are highly encouraging and warrant further research to confirm whether there is a causative relationship as well as determining whether different tea types have similar effects.”     


Kandinov, B., Giladi, N. and Korczyn, A. (2008) Smoking and tea consumption delay onset of Parkinson's disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. Apr 21