Older women who regularly drink green tea may have slightly lower risks of colon, stomach and throat cancers than women who do not, according to a Canadian study that followed thousands of Chinese women over a decade.

Nobody can say whether green tea itself is the reason, since green tea lovers are often more health-conscious in general

The researchers, whose report appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that of the more than 69,000 women, those who drank green tea at least three times a week were 14 per cent less likely to develop a cancer of the digestive system.

The study adds to debate over the impact of green tea on cancer risks. Past studies have so far come to conflicting findings on whether green tea drinkers really do have lower cancer risks.

“In this large prospective cohort study, tea consumption was associated with reduced risk of colorectal and stomach/oesophageal cancers in Chinese women,” wrote study leader Wei Zheng, who heads epidemiology at Vanderbilt University school of Medicine in Nashville, and his colleagues.

Nobody can say whether green tea itself is the reason, since green tea lovers are often more health-conscious in general.

None of the women who took part in the study smoked or drank alcohol regularly, and the researchers also collected information on their diets, exercise habits, weight and medical history.

Women’s tea habits remained linked to their cancer risks, Zheng noted – even though this type of study cannot prove cause and effect.

Few clinical trials have looked at whether green tea can cut cancer risks and the results have been inconsistent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

There is “strong evidence” from lab research – in animals and in human cells – that green tea has the potential to fight cancer, Zheng’s team wrote.

For the study, Zheng and his colleagues used data from a long-running health study of over 69,000 middle-aged and older women.

Over 11 years, 1,255 women developed a digestive system cancer. In general, the risks were somewhat lower when a woman drank green tea often and for a long time.

Green tea contains certain antioxidant chemicals that may ward off the body-cell damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases.

None of this proves that people should start downing green tea to thwart cancer.

Women who downed a lot of green tea in the study were also younger, ate more fruits and vegetables, exercised more and had higher-income jobs.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.