Tea cuts bowel cancer risk
‘Green tea may lower the risk of colon, stomach and throat cancers in women’, says the Daily Mail, perhaps causing readers to rush to put the kettle on.
The Mail reports on a large, long-term observational study of people’s tea drinking habits and their risk of developing cancers of the digestive system.
However, the findings of the study require careful interpretation. The only statistically significant association found was a 14% decreased risk in any type of digestive system cancer (such as bowel cancer or stomach cancer) in people who regularly drank any type of tea compared to people who were not regular tea drinkers.
The media can be excused for its focus on green tea, as 88% of the tea drinkers in this Chinese cohort were drinking green tea. However, when the researchers restricted their analysis to the women who only drank green tea, the association between tea and cancer became only borderline statistically significant – at the upper end of the margin of error, the preventative effect could be zero.
Also, despite the headlines, no significant association was found between any tea consumption – or green tea alone – and risk of any specific digestive system cancer.
Overall, this is an interesting and well conducted study, but it does not provide conclusive evidence that drinking green tea - or any other tea – will influence your risk of cancers of the digestive system.
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