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Green Tea May Help Fight Lung Cancer
 Cancer Center Feature Story

Green Tea May Help Fight Lung Cancer
Antioxidant properties seem to ease, but not cancel, smoking's toxic effect

Green Tea May Help Fight Lung Cancer(HealthDay News) -- Though the only way to truly stop or prevent the damage done to the body by smoking is to not smoke or be near smokers, a small weapon may have emerged in the battle against lung cancer: green tea.

Antioxidants in green tea appear to lower the risk for developing lung cancer among both those who do and don't smoke, research from Taiwan has shown.

"The health effect of green tea consumption could modify the risk of lung cancer, particularly among smokers," study author I-Hsin Lin, of Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung, told HealthDay.

The study found that smokers who drank at least one cup of green tea every day had a nearly 13-fold lower risk for developing lung cancer than smokers who didn't drink green tea. Nonsmokers who drank a cup a day had a fivefold lower risk than nonsmokers who didn't drink the tea.

The observed protective effect seems to result from the strong "antioxidative property" of polyphenols found in green tea preparations.

The findings came from a study that focused on the diet and lifestyle of 170 people who had lung cancer and 340 healthy people. Participants outlined their smoking histories, green tea consumption, fruit and vegetable intake and cooking practices, as well as any family history of lung cancer.

The researchers found that tea drinkers with certain genotypes seemed to gain even more protection.

But experts warn that smokers can't just cancel out the toxic effects of lighting up with a tea bag.

"Cessation of smoking is the best way for cancer prevention," Lin said.

Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, agreed.

"The idea that various antioxidants are protective to the lung has been around for a while, and green tea is a powerful antioxidant," Edelman told HealthDay. "But for us to really know whether or not just one cup can have such an enormous effect, you really have to look at more data and all the other possibly confounding factors."

And, he stressed, green tea is no cure-all. In case someone thinks, "'Oh, well, I can smoke as long as I have a few cups of green tea,' nothing could be further from the truth," Edelman said.

"Smoking is extremely toxic, obviously, and extremely detrimental to your health," he said. "And nothing changes this fact. So the most important thing here is that we don't want anyone to get the message that it's OK to smoke so long as I drink green tea."

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Millions of Americans have health problems caused by smoking. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. It can lead to cancer of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), hip fractures and cataracts.

Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause an estimated 438,000 premature deaths each year in the United States.

On the Web

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more on green tea.

SOURCES: I-Hsin Lin, graduate student, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan; Norman Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer, American Lung Association; Jan. 11-14, 2010, presentations, American Association for Cancer Research/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, Coronado, Calif.; U.S. National Cancer Institute (

Author: Anne Thompson

Publication Date: Jan. 31, 2011

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