THURSDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Although some research has
suggested that drinking green tea might help protect women from
breast cancer, a new, large Japanese study comes to a different
"We found no overall association between green tea intake and the risk of breast cancer among Japanese women who have habitually drunk green tea," said lead researcher Dr. Motoki Iwasaki, from the Epidemiology and Prevention Division at the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo.
"Our findings suggest that green tea intake within a usual drinking habit is unlikely to reduce the risk of breast cancer," he said.
The report is published in the Oct. 28 online issue of the
Breast Cancer Research.
For the study, Iwasaki's team collected data on 53,793 women who
were surveyed between 1995 and 1998. As part of the survey, the
women were asked how much green tea they drank.
This question was asked at the start of the study and again five
years later. During the second survey, the researchers asked about
two different types of green tea, Sencha and Bancha/Genmaicha.
Among the women, 12 percent drank less than one cup of green tea
a week, while 27 percent drank five or more cups a day, the
researchers found. The study also included women who drank 10 or
more cups a day.
Over almost 14 years of follow-up, 350 women developed breast
cancer, but the researchers found no association between drinking
green tea and the risk for developing breast cancer.
In the study, Iwasaki noted that one strength of the research
was its prospective design, so that the information was collected
before the diagnosis of breast cancer, "thereby avoiding the
exposure recall bias inherent to case-control studies."
Dr. Stephanie Bernik, a breast cancer surgeon at Lenox Hill
Hospital in New York City, said that "it's hard to say that there
is no benefit from green tea overall, certainly. Maybe there is no
benefit for breast cancer specifically."
Bernik noted that many women are interested in alternative
medicine when Western medicine doesn't have the answers.
"We are always looking to learn more about how to improve the outcome of breast cancer and how to reduce the incidence of breast cancer," she said. Women are definitely interested in how they can have a healthier lifestyle."
Jennifer J. Hu, a professor of epidemiology and public health at
the University of Miami School of Medicine's Sylvester
Comprehensive Cancer Center, added that the problem with
population-based studies is that when you try to look at one single
factor you may not be taking into account other risk factors that
can influence the result.
"Also, just by drinking green tea you don't get enough of the [possible cancer-fighting ingredient] to make much of a difference," she said.
Based on these problems, Hu doesn't think this study answers the
question of whether or not green tea might help guard against
For more on breast cancer, visit the
American Cancer Society.
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