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Green Tea and Death: The Ohsaki Study

Recently, green tea has received a lot of attention from the health community due to its potential health benefits. Those benefits are proposed to derive from the concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols within tea that are thought to help prevent diseases including cancer and coronary heart disease.

The recent Ohsaki study, published in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined the tea drinking patterns of 40,530 Japanese adults aged 40 to 79 years. The massive experiment tracked subjects for over ten years in order to determine any association between green tea consumption and all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality.In other words, does drinking green tea help prevent death and/or diseases which result in premature death?Yes!!! In some cases…

The researchers found an inverse relationship between green tea and the risk of all-cause mortality and death due to cardiovascular disease, yet drinking tea did not have a significant effect on death due to cancer. Due to this inverse relationship, the subjects whom drank the most green tea (more than 5 cups a day) experienced the greatest benefit when compared to the group whom drank less than one cup a day.

While the study provided a correlation between green tea ingestion and a decreased disease risk no direct cause and effect was determined. It is unknown whether the tea drinkers ingested or ate less of other nutrients, which are harmful and disease promoting or whether the phytonutrients in the tea actually protected the drinkers against other agents in the “typical” diet. More research is definitely needed before conclusive conclusions can be made.

This study is, however, encouraging and another reason to enjoy your green tea throughout the day. But also remember drinking green tea is only one small piece of the puzzle. In order to complete the health puzzle, proper diet and exercise are necessary.

Written by Aaron Losey, B.A. Kinesiology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA