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. 1993 Jul 7;85(13):1038-49.
doi: 10.1093/jnci/85.13.1038.

Tea and Cancer


Tea and Cancer

C S Yang et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. .


Tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide. The relationship between tea consumption and human cancer incidence is an important concern. This topic has been studied in different populations by many investigators, but no clear-cut conclusion can be drawn. Whereas some studies have shown a protective effect of tea consumption against certain types of cancers, other studies have indicated an opposite effect. Our purpose is to provide a critical review of this topic, covering basic chemistry and biochemical activity of tea, epidemiologic investigations, and laboratory studies, as well as possible directions for future research. Studies have demonstrated either a lack of association between tea consumption and cancer incidence at specific organ sites or inconsistent results. On the other hand, many laboratory studies have demonstrated inhibitory effects of tea preparations and tea polyphenols against tumor formation and growth. This inhibitory activity is believed to be mainly due to the antioxidative and possible antiproliferative effects of polyphenolic compounds in green and black tea. These polyphenolics may also inhibit carcinogenesis by blocking the endogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds, suppressing the activation of carcinogens, and trapping of genotoxic agents. The effect of tea consumption on cancer is likely to depend on the causative factors of the specific cancer. Therefore, a protective effect observed on a certain cancer with a specific population may not be observable with a cancer of a different etiology. On the basis of this concept, we suggest future laboratory and epidemiologic studies to elucidate the relationship between tea consumption and human cancer risk.

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