Background: Laboratory studies have revealed the cancer preventive effects of green tea, so the association between green tea consumption and cancer was examined in a human population.
Methods: The association between green tea consumption and cancer incidence was studied in our prospective cohort study of a Japanese population. We surveyed 8,552 individuals over 40 years of age living in a town in Saitama prefecture on their living habits, including daily consumption of green tea. During the 9 years of follow-up study (71,248.5 person-years), we identified a total of 384 cases of cancer in all sites.
Results: We found a negative association between green tea consumption and cancer incidence, especially among females drinking more than 10 cups a day. The slowdown in increase of cancer incidence with age observed among females who consumed more than 10 cups a day is consistent with the finding that increased consumption of green tea is associated with later onset of cancer. Age-standardized average annual incidence rate was significantly lower among females who consumed large amounts of green tea. Relative risk (RR) of cancer incidence was also lower among both females (RR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.33-0.98) and males (RR = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.39-1.21) in groups with the highest consumption, although the preventive effects did not achieve statistical significance among males, even when stratified by smoking and adjusted for alcohol and dietary variables.
Conclusion: Our epidemiological study showed that green tea has a potentially preventive effect against cancer among humans.