Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com
On any given day, some person in the world will be drinking tea. Tea plays an important role in modern culture. For example, visit restaurants and cafes, and you´ll see families and friends chatting and sipping tea. Even with tea´s omnipresence, a new study reveals that tea may possibly be harmful to certain consumers. In particular, researchers recently found that male tea drinkers may be more at risk of developing prostate cancer.
For the project, the health of over 6,000 male volunteers was tracked over a 37-year period by a team of researchers from Glasgow University. The findings showed that men who consumed over seven cups of tea per day had a 50 percent greater chance of having prostate cancer than those who drank tea moderately or didn´t drink tea at all. The group of investigators stated that they were not sure if tea was a risk factor or if tea drinkers lived up to ages where cancer was more prevalent.
“We found that heavy tea drinkers were more likely not to be overweight, be non alcohol-drinkers and have healthy cholesterol levels,” noted Dr. Kashif Shafique of Glasgow University´s Institute of Health and Wellbeing in a BBC News article. “However, we did adjust for these differences in our analysis and still found that men who drank the most tea were at greater risk of prostate cancer.”
The project, titled the Midspan Collaborative Study and led by Shafique, started in 1970 in Scotland. The scientists reported data from 6,016 male volunteers who were between the ages of 21 and 75. Volunteers completed a questionnaire regarding their usual consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, smoking habits, as well as general health. Apart from the questionnaire, researchers conducted a screening exam. In the group of participants, 6.4 percent developed prostate cancer when scientists completed a follow-up visit 37 years later. Based on the results, researchers concluded that there was a correlation between those who drank more than seven cups of tea a day and those who had a significant increase in the risk for prostate cancer.
“Most previous research has shown either no relationship with prostate cancer for black tea or some preventive effect of green tea,” Sahfique told BBC News. “We don’t know whether tea itself is a risk factor or if tea drinkers are generally healthier and live to an older age when prostate cancer is more common anyway.”
Regarding the findings, some believe that the study has limitations.
“Whilst it does appear that – of the 6,000 men who took part in this study – those who drank seven or more cups of tea each day had an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, this did not take into consideration family history or any other dietary elements other than tea, coffee and alcohol intake,” commented Dr. Kate Holmes, head of research at the Prostate Cancer Charity, in the BBC News article. “We would therefore not wish any man to be concerned that drinking a moderate amount of tea as part of a healthy diet will put them at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.”
Others have stated that they will continue drinking tea.
“As usual you get evidence on one side and you get evidence on the other and you’re left in the middle trying to decide who’s right but I have to say, I don’t think tea is very high on the agenda if you’re looking at diet, lifestyle and so on,” remarked Chris Garner, a member of Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group, in the BBC News article. “There are other things which come well above tea.”