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Green Tea May Greatly Reduce Risk of Lung Cancer

Research performed by scientists at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan seems to show that smokers who drink at least one cup of green tea daily may have a 13 fold reduction in lung cancer risk. The findings were presented at the AACR-IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, held the week of January 11th, 2010 in Coronado, CA.

The health benefits for smokers likely derive from the fact that green tea contains high levels of antioxidant rich compounds found naturally in plants called polyphenols. These compounds decrease damaging oxidation processes in the body by neutralizing destructive free radicals.

Tobacco smoke contains approximately 60 known carcinogens. For this reason, tobacco smokers have much higher levels of oxidative stress than non-smokers. Oxidative stress depletes the body's antioxidant supply and is linked to a large number of negative health effects.

The antioxidants in green tea appeared to also benefit non-smokers but to a lesser degree. The researchers found that non smokers who drank no green tea had a 5 fold increased risk of developing lung cancer compared to people who drank at least 1 cup of green tea daily.

There are a number of different kinds of tea and each has different health benefits associated with them. The most popular teas are green tea, black tea and white tea. They are all from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) and vary only in the amount of oxidation they are exposed to during fermentation, which directly affects polyphenol levels.

White tea is purported to contain the greatest percentage of polyphenols because it is not fermented or oxidized. Green tea is slightly oxidized and contains the second highest level of polyphenols. Black tea, which is green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation, contains the least amount of polyphenols.

The most in depth scientific research relates to green tea, which has been shown to improve heart health, digestion and decrease the risk of neurogenerative disease.

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