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 Breast Health Tip #2: Green Tea 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Dr. Christine Horner's Natural Secrets for Breast Health by . View all columns in series
BREAST HEALTH TIP #2: Green Tea Drinking 8-10 cups of green tea a day or taking a daily green tea supplement significantly lowers the risk of breast cancer, and if you have breast cancer, it improves your prognosis. Research shows that green tea inhibits the growth of breast cancer and lowers the risk of breast tumors metastasizing or recurring. Green tea has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy, while protecting against its dangerous side effects.

Over 4,000 years ago the Chinese began brewing the leaves of a plant and drinking it as a hot beverage. They called the infusion tea. More tea is now consumed everyday by people all over the world than any other liquid -- except water. Research shows drinking tea, especially green tea, is a wise choice because green tea has been found to have many potent health benefits.

THE #1 ANTI-CANCER BEVERAGE
Research shows green tea is very effective in hampering the growth of at least 11 different types of cancer: cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, bladder, prostate, skin, ovaries, and breast. It also reduces the risk of leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and lung cancer in smokers. That’s why green tea is considered the #1 anti-cancer beverage. You may think the impact of drinking a few cups of tea each day on lowering the risk of these cancers is small. It’s not. Cancers of the digestive tract are as much as 68% lower in tea drinkers.

Part of the reason why green tea reduces the risk of so many cancers, is because it contains an exceptional blend of powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. It also holds within it, the remarkable ability to amplify the power of enzymes in our liver that detoxify toxins and carcinogens. Researchers believe most of the health benefits of tea come from substances in it called "polyphenols." There are 3 polyphenols that are considered most important: gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC). Of the three, ECGC is the most potent.

LOW LOWERING THE RISK OF BREAST CANCER
Japanese researchers found that women who drink green tea have a lower risk of breast cancer, and women with breast cancer, live much longer than women who don’t drink this miraculous health tonic. For instance, women with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer, who were green tea drinkers before they were diagnosed, were found to have a much better prognosis. A 1998 study found drinking green tea lowers the risk of breast tumors metastasizing, and stops them from recurring, or coming back, after they have been treated. Several studies show the polyphenol in green tea, ECGC, inhibits the growth of breast cancer, and decreases the incidence of the cancer metastasizing to the lungs. A Japanese study of rats with mammary tumors found that 93.8% of the rats given green tea survived, compared to only 33% of the rats who weren’t given green tea. The rats that were given green tea also had smaller tumors than the other rats.

Scientists have mapped out 7 different ways that green tea combats breast cancer. This stellar brew increases the number of protein binders in the blood so that less estrogen is available to attach to receptors in the breast. It also lowers estradiol levels, and increases the number of estrogen and progesterone sensitive receptors in breast cancers found in post-menopausal women. This is important, because tumors with receptors sensitive to these hormones respond better to treatment and have a better prognosis. This extraordinary elixir also helps to block the growth of new blood vessels into the tumor -- a quality that is technically referred to as “anti-angiogenic.” If you are on chemotherapy, green tea is able to enhance the effectiveness of your chemotherapy while at the same time protecting against many of its dangerous side effects. Japanese researchers, Sugiyama and Saduka, published several studies between 1998 and 2003, showing that green tea and some of the individual components in green tea, increase the concentration of chemotherapeutic agents like doxorubicin and Adriamycin in tumors 2.1 -2.9 times, while decreasing their levels in normal tissue. The results are that when green tea in consumed while taking these chemotherapy drugs, tumors have been found to shrink more than they usual do when these pharmaceutical chemicals are given alone. In addition, the organs that are commonly damaged by these anti-cancer drugs, like the heart and liver, are protected from injury by drinking this dynamic green decoction.

MAJOR HEALTH BENEFITS
Hundreds of studies show this verdant beverage has many other impressive health benefits. Green tea decreases your risk of heart attacks and strokes by decreasing cholesterol, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. It is also superb at killing certain bacteria, especially in the bladder. It’s flair for stopping the propagation of these bladder bugs is revealed by this statistic: tea drinkers have a 40% lower incidence of urinary tract infections. Green tea is a thermogenic. Thermogenics speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. If you’re concerned about osteoporosis, drink this healthy brew often. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April 2000 found that women ages 65-75, who drank at least one cup of tea a day, had significantly higher bone densities than women who didn't drink tea. Green tea also aids digestion by increasing the beneficial bacteria in our intestines and decreasing the harmful ones.

MAKING GREEN TEA
Green tea comes from the tea plant, or Camellia sinensis of the family Theacea, for you biologists. It is processed by steaming the leaves at high temperatures. When the leaves are prepared in this way, the important health-promoting substances in the tea, called polyphenols, are preserved. Remember, polyphenols are thought to be responsible for most of green tea's health benefits. Some of these polyphenols are destroyed during the processing of black tea. This is the most probable reason why green tea has been found to have more potent medicinal properties than black tea. To create the best tasting and highest medicinal quality cup of tea, it is recommended to steep your tea bag or loose tea in hot water for about 3-5 minutes.

HOW MUCH TO DRINK
For the maximum protection, it’s recommended to drink 8-10 cups of green tea a day. If you were wondering, green tea does have some caffeine. But there are substances in the tea that seem to modify the effects of the caffeine. Most people don't experience the side effects of caffeine when drinking green tea. The caffeine also appears to be an important component in enhancing green tea's anti-tumor effects. If you don’t think you can drink this much green tea each day, you can take a green tea supplement. Two 250 mg tablets a day are recommended.

THERE'S A GOOD REASON TO BUY ORGANIC
When you are selecting a green tea, it's important to buy "organically grown" tea. As you may recall, organically grown, means that the plant was raised without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. It also has not had its DNA genetically modified. There is a good reason to be concerned and to favor organic. A recent analysis of several brands of green tea found that they contained traces of the banned estrogenic pesticide, DDT. Although DDT has been banned in this country for over 30 years, other countries still use it. You don’t want to drink something to reduce your risk of cancer, if it contains something that may increase your risk of cancer! Be safe and favor organically grown foods.

      
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 About The Author
Christine Horner, MD is a board certified and nationally recognized surgeon, author, professional speaker and a relentless champion for women's health. She spearheaded legislation in the......moreChristine Horner MD, FACS
 
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