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Tea is widely regarded for its potential health benefits, which range from cholesterol-lowering effects to diabetes and cancer prevention. Tea leaves are rich in polyphenols called catechins—antioxidant compounds that may prevent DNA damage and inhibit tumor cell growth, invasion, and blood vessel formation. The best-known tea catechin is called epigallocatchin-3-gallate, or EGCG.
Several analyses have suggested that tea might protect against gastrointestinal cancers, but others have failed to find an effect. To see if tea drinking affected the risk of digestive system cancers in women, researchers studied 69,310 Chinese women for 11 years as part of the Shanghai Women’s Health Study.
Over the course of the study, 1,255 gastrointestinal cancers were diagnosed in the women, including cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, colon and rectum, gallbladder and bile duct, and liver.
Green tea was the most common type consumed by the women.
Gastrointestinal cancers account for about 50% of cancer deaths among Chinese women. While death rates for these cancers are lower in other parts of the world, many digestive system cancers may go undetected until they have spread, making prevention that much more important.
To help lower your risk of gastrointestinal cancers,
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:1056–63)