Tea Catechins and Cancer Prevention

Doctors in China have long been talking that green tea and puer tea can prevent aging and cancer. Even scientists in Europe and the United States have begun to attach importance to teas, and are now discovering the connection between tea and weight loss, cardiovascular disease prevention, as well as diabetes and hypertension reduction and prevention.

A new study by the Institute of Food Science and Technology at the National Taiwan University from Professor Sun Luxi has concluded that teas ranging from green, oolong and puer have cancer fighting and prevention properties due to polyphenols. Additionally, catechins found in green tea become Theaflavins and Thearubigins, creating strong antioxidant effects that help aid in prevention of disease and sickness.

Although popular medical statistics show that the likelihood of tea-drinkers contracting cancer is of lower than those who do not drink tea, developing the habit of drinking tea in the long term is most important and necessary to experiencing such benefits. It should also be noted that doctors believe that tea can, before the development of cancer cells, prevent normal cells becoming cancerous, thus delaying the development of cancer rather than curing cancer. Professor Lin Renhun from the Department of Biochemistry at the National Taiwan University’s medical school stresses this idea in his research, stating that tea cannot be seen as direct medicine or a 100% cure following the adoption of certain diseases.

The professor noted that animal experiments found that catechins amongst tea polyphenols can directly influence the speed of growth of cells, thus proving that tealeaves can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Because there are many carcinogenic factors in our environment, to prevent cancer, it is necessary to drink tea every day, the professor said.

Tea consumption for health and well being in fact is not new to the world. Of the emperors who lived long, Tang Dynasty Emperor Wuqing, Kangxi and Qianlong, were lovers of tea who “never went a day without tea”. Emperor Qianlong up until an old age still had a light and healthy body, quick thinking, and at 80-over years still had keen senses. It is said that his tea was his secret to longevity.

To help prevent cancer by using tea, researchers also suggest that one must drink different types of tea, and also interchange drinking tea and eating tealeaves. Tea has some nutrients that do not dissolve in hot water, such as fat-soluble vitamins like carotene, vitamin E, minerals, manganese and dietary fiber, which cannot be consumed by merely drinking tea. Thus including tea in dishes is also a good way to consume the benefits. To learn more about what dishes incorporate tealeaves, click here.

Currently, there have appeared in the market many dishes that contain green tea powder, such as green tea yogurt, green tea ice cream and other methods of consuming tea, but this green tea powder is not the same as Japanese Matcha green tea powder.

Matcha tea is particular about the quality of raw materials, and annually uses only tea produced in the spring. Furthermore, the tea must receive less sunlight during the time before germination in order to enhance chlorophyll content and tea’s taste, thus reducing the content of catechins and the tea’s bitterness. In contrast, green tea need not be grown so particularly.

“In fact, every tea contains Catechin, just in varying quantities and qualities. Thus, they also have different effects on health,” Sun Luxi explained.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Tea can lower blood pressure and decrease blood viscosity, which plays a role in the prevention of thrombosis, as proved by a number of animal experiments.

Sun Luxi analyzed that because tea has polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-cancer effects, it can slow atherosclerosis, reduce the likelihood of suffering from heart disease and stroke. Of the most studied green tea, more than 80% of these polyphenols are catechins.

He also pointed out that catechins reduce “bad” cholesterol, i.e. the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and increase “good” cholesterol, i.e. the high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Adding 0.5 to 1% of catechins into the feed of white rats can make the rat’s total cholesterol, free cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels decrease significantly, while increasing the content of high-density lipoprotein, studies have shown. Furthermore, the fecal excretion of cholesterol and lipids also increases.

In addition, research results show that catechins can make rabbits delay blood coagulation, as well as increase the products of decomposed fibrinogen in the blood, demonstrating that tea leaves have antithrombotic effects and can prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Green tea has the ability to lower cholesterol fat, which is a well-known concept. However, Sun Luxi’s animal experiments surprisingly discovered that the recently popular Pu-er tea also contains cholesterol-lowering ingredients, increase fecal cholesterol excretion, and reduce hepatic synthesis of cholesterol.

Additionally, a lot of people have this experience when drinking teas, said Sun: when one has eaten beyond the point of fullness, a pot of hot tea will always make one’s mouth fragrant, eliminate food and the thirstiness and dryness created by alcohol. It has a reviving, thirst-quenching, heart cleansing and cooling effect.

Prevention of Diabetes and Hypertension

Professor Lin Renhun said, Guangdong and Hong Kong people’s “tea” is in fact the gentle Pu-er tea. According to people’s experiences, right after eating a greasy meal, drinking tea makes one feel refreshed. “Because the tea can cause reduction of fat in the body, blood and cells, and the effect is obvious especially in long-term drinking,” said Lin.

Diabetes and hypertension is a common disease amongst the elderly. Clinical trials in Japan found that those bitterly struggling to find the path to a solution do not actually have to seek a miracle drug. Just drinking tea every day can lower blood sugar and sodium.

Japanese scientists recently extracted from tea a water-soluble polysaccharide compound. After conducting over one hundred clinical trials on diabetic patients, they discovered that the patients experienced significant decrease in blood and urine glucose levels.

Moreover, tea is rich in potassium and can encourage the elimination of sodium in the blood. A high sodium content is one of the main causes of high blood pressure. Potassium is soluble in water, thus drinking tea has the effect of preventing hypertension, gets rid of oils, and aids in weight loss.

In Japan, green tea grants wishes for health and weight loss, and is thus especially popular amongst women of the slimming cult. Even Chinese have begun to follow this green tea health craze. But why can tea can tea eliminate oil and help one lose weight?

Ruan Yiming said, catechin combines with dietary protein and fat, thus affecting the gastrointestinal absorption of essential amino acids and reducing energy absorption. However, if you want to lose weight by drinking tea, you must also pair it with exercise for significant effects. “According to foreign studies, drinking a cup of tea before, during or after exercise can accelerate the burning of fat.”

Those who want to lose weight must be curious: which tea gives the best results? Sun Luxi said: “Pu-er tea shows the most apparent effect because in the fermentation process of Pu-er tea, the mould produces a chemical compound that can reduce the hepatic synthesis of cholesterol. But which compound influences cholesterol synthesis, and what process occurs, require further experimentation to determine.”

Bacteria Removal in the Mouth

Tea can prevent tooth decay, because tea contains fluorine, and older leaves especially contain high concentrations of fluoride. In addition, tea polyphenols have strong antibacterial effects, and can also inhibit the synthesis of insoluble glucans, and thus together with fluorine comprehensively fights again tooth decay.

In Japan, it was found early on that green tea can get rid of bad breath, and the results are even better than the results of commercial products. Regarding whether black tea can get rid of bad breath, the ever interested Professor Sun Luxi disovered recently that in the fermentation of the tea by enzymes contained within itself, the Theaflavins and Thearubigins that Catechin turns into can also fight bad breath and has antibacterial and antioxidant effects. When it comes to fighting bad breath, however, it is more effective than green tea.

However, to effectively suppress oral bacteria, tea must stay in the mouth for 15 minutes. “Perhaps you can drink black tea during the day to get rid of bad breath, and use green tea to rinse the mouth before going to bed at night, allowing the tea flavor to stay in the mouth,” Sun Luxi recommended. In addition, because catechin must rely on water to dissolve, if one wants to eat tea leaves to get rid of bad breath, it is best to use already soaked tea to chew in the mouth.

Tea catechins, can kill or inhibit bacteria harmful to humans, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum and so on. Furthermore, tea can improve the growth of intestinal beneficial bacteria and microbes, and towards many harmful intestinal bacteria.