21st April 04:21
Does Tea Belong in the Medicine Chest (virus lymphocytes bacteria stroke heart)
Does Tea Belong in the Medicine Chest?
Studies find array of health benefits from beverage
By Amanda Gardner HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDayNews) -- Drink tea. Drink lots of it. Drink
black tea. Drink green tea. Drink it iced, drink it hot; you might even
want to rub it on your skin.
A dozen or so studies being presented Sept. 8 at the American Chemical
Society meeting in New York City are reporting health benefits from the
beverage that range from fighting fat to fighting cancer.
In what seems to be the first study linking immunity with tea,
researchers in Boston found people who drank five to six cups of black
tea each day seemed to get a boost in that part of the immune system
that acts as a first line of defense against infection.
"We found that certain molecules were shared by bacteria, parasites and
vegetables -- and one of the vegetables was tea," says study author Dr.
Jack F. Bukowski, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical
School and staff rheumatologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "These
molecules could activate a certain component of the immune system called
gamma delta T lymphocytes, which are very important as the first line of
defense against infection and tumors."
Bukowski and his colleagues asked non-tea drinking, non-coffee drinking
volunteers to consume five to six cups of black tea infusion or instant
coffee for either two or four weeks.
They then took blood samples and tested the activity of the immune
system against bacteria.
"We found that samples taken after they drank tea were able to react
against the bacteria fivefold better by making a very important protein
called interferon gamma," Bukowski says. "If you put two and two
together, that should mean you're going to be more able to fight off
diseases because that's a very important bacteria-fighting and virus-
and tumor-fighting molecule, but we did not go on to show that drinking
tea actually protects you against getting sick." That will be the
subject of the next study.
Although the tea can't be viewed as a cure, it could be viewed "almost
as a vitamin for the immune system," Bukowski says. And more of these
"vitamins" will probably be found in vegetables, Bukowski adds, which
means you should probably have some vegetables with your tea.
A second study found that mice who had been genetically engineered to
develop prostate cancer, and who drank the equivalent of about six cups
of tea a day, did not end up developing tumors. "Those animals who drank
tea were substantially protected and they lived longer," says study
author Hasan Mukhtar, a professor of cancer research at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison. No one knows if the same mechanism will be at
play in humans, but Mukhtar says he suspects that tea will have some
effect in some patients.
"China has the lowest prostate cancer rate in the world and Japan is
also very low, and they drink much more tea," he notes.
Another study found that a green tea extract reduced body fat in mice,
possibly by inhibiting the absorption of fats and starches, and that
drinking green tea may mitigate DNA damage from smokers that could lead
to mouth cancer. Still other researchers are working on developing a
cream made up of tea polyphenols which would ward off skin cancer.
Finally, researchers in Boston found that drinking tea improved the
function of blood vessels and platelets, and may therefore reduce the
risk of heart attack and stroke. This adds to an already large body of
knowledge on tea and heart health.
"The results of studies on tea have been quite positive along a whole
array of human ailments with the strongest appearing to be
cardiovascular," says Joseph Simrany, president of the Tea Council of
the U.S.A. in New York City. "Not to diminish any of the others, but
cardiovascular is coming to the forefront in this point of time."
For more on tea and health, visit the Tea Association or the U.K. Tea
SOURCES: Jack F. Bukowski, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, medicine,
Harvard Medical School, and staff rheumatologist, Brigham and Women's
Hospital, Boston; Joseph Simrany, president, Tea Council of the USA, New
York City; Hasan Mukhtar, Ph.D., Helfaer Professor of Cancer Research
and director and vice chairman, research, Department of Dermatology,
University of Wisconsin, Madison; Sept. 8,
2003, presentations, American Chemical Society national meeting, New
Copyright © 2003 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.