A regular cup of green tea may help prevent chronic stomach inflammation that can lead to stomach cancer, a new study shows.
A number of studies have suggested that green tea drinkers may reduce their chance of developingstomach cancer compared with people who favour other types of leaves.
Now new research suggests a possible route green tea takes in cutting stomach cancer risk - it may lower the odds of chronic gastritis, long-term stomach inflammation thatcan precede cancer.
In a study, led by Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang of the University of California, of more than 600 Chinese men and women, researchers found that green teadrinkers were about half as likely as non-drinkers to have stomach cancer or gastritis. In China, stomach cancer is the most common cancer among men and women.
"This is the first time that green tea drinking was found to protect against chronic gastritis,"Zhang said in a statement. "The study suggests that using green tea to treat chronic gastritisand as a preventive therapy in high-risk populations would reduce the incidence of stomachcancer in the long term."
Zhang and his colleagues came to their conclusions after examining health and lifestylefactors among men and women with stomach cancer or gastritis, and among healthy individuals. They questioned the participants on their diets, smoking and drinking habits, family history of digestive cancers and other factors that might affect their risk of stomach disorders.
The investigators found that the healthy individuals were more likely than patients witheither stomach condition to be green tea drinkers. Even after considering other health factors, green tea consumption was linked to lower odds of gastritis and stomach cancer.And the more often and longer people drank green tea, the lower their stomach cancer risk was.
Experts believe that a number of factors can raise the risk of stomach cancer - includingdiets high in smoked and salted meats but low in produce and fibre, smoking, family history of the disease and previous stomach surgery. In addition, infection with Helicobacter pyloribacteria, which can cause chronic gastritis and ulcers, has been linked to stomach cancer - although the vast majority of people who harbour the bacteria do not develop the cancer.
Full findings are published in the May issue of the International Journal of Cancer.
Source: International Journal of Cancer 2001;92:600-604 and ReutersHealth