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  • Tea Consumption and the Risk of Breast Cancer

    Tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet. It is mainly consumed in a fermented black form in the western world, and as green tea in China and Japan. Both teas are known to have many health benefits. Tea is thought to have a positive role in the prevention and control of cancers.

    Both black and green tea polyphenols are thought to be beneficial to health, but it is perhaps the green tea catechin EGCG that is causing the most excitement in cancer research circles. Indeed research has shown that green tea extracts not only have a preventative role in cancers but are also actively able to fight certain forms of cancer cells. Here we take a look at the relationship between the consumption of green tea and the risk and control of breast cancers.

    Drinking Tea and the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

    Case control studies in the USA that looked into the relationship of drinking green tea and the development of breast cancer in Asian women have shown that there is a positive relationship between green tea consumption and a decreased risk of developing cancer. Additionally it has been shown that green tea is able to reduce axillary lymph node metastases in stage I and II breast cancers.

    Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon
    Breast cancer awareness ribbon image by Koko Nut.

    Green Tea Extracts Suppress Breast Cancer

    The main polyphenol antioxidant that is found in green tea is a catechin called EGCG. Research has shown that this substance is able to suppress Wnt signalling in breast cancer cells. Both green tea extracts and EGCG have been shown to increase the latency of mammary tumours and to reduce their burden.

    It is therefore thought that the drinking of green tea may have major health benefits in relation to the risk of developing breast cancer.


    Kavanagh et al. (2001). Green tea extracts decrease carcinogen-induced mammary tumor burden in rats and rate of breast cancer cell proliferation in culture. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 82: 387
    Khan and Mukhtar (2007) Tea polyphenols for health promotion. Life Sciences 81: 519 to 533.
    Kim et al. (2006) Suppression of WNT signaling by the green tea compound EGCG in invasive breast cancer cells: requirement of the transcriptional repressor HBP1. Journal of Biological Chemistry 281: 10865
    Nakachi et al (2000). Preventive effects of drinking green tea on cancer and cardiovascular disease: epidemiological evidence for multiple targeting prevention. Biofactors 13: 49 to 54.
    Wu et al.(2003). Green tea and risk of breast cancer in Asian Americans. International Journal of Cancer 106: 574 to 579.