"Rats that consumed
the tea did not develop malignancies. The group that did not consume
tea did develop malignancies," she said.
Ardisia tea was
selected for study because the indigenous peoples of the Mexican
Pacific Coast have used the plant for years to treat and prevent
One group of animals
consumed the herbal tea for only two weeks before cancer was
induced. The animals did not develop tumors or pre-malignancies,
which demonstrates the tea's cancer prevention properties, she said.
Her findings will be
published in Food and Chemical Toxicology.
According to de
Mejia, all teas provide some level of cancer protection because of
their potent antioxidant activity, although green tea has more
antioxidants than black tea.
"If you drink tea,
within an hour, some antioxidant or cancer-fighting capacity will be
circulating in your blood. And that's important because we consume
so many oxidants in our food. If you eat broiled steak, very
well-done, you're eating carcinogens. We need to keep taking in
antioxidants to compensate for our exposure to all these
carcinogens," she said.
The scientist said
recent research has linked tea to reductions in colon, liver,
prostate and oral cancer.
suggest rinsing your mouth with tea before bedtime because of its
antimicrobial properties. Tea lowers the number of bacteria in your
mouth -- bacteria that produce carcinogens when they act on food
residues," she said.
[to top of second column in
drinking between three and 10 cups of green tea a day for
antioxidant activity and consequent cancer protection. Three cups of
tea provides more antioxidant activity than a serving of broccoli.
"But, for maximum
benefit, you should drink about 10 cups daily. You'll probably want
to choose a decaffeinated variety," she said.
"Admittedly, that's a
lot of tea, but if you drink it instead of the water you should be
drinking, you will notice other benefits as well," she added.
An unabashed tea
promoter, de Mejia said that clinical studies have linked tea to
lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and improvements in
rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, she says studies suggest that
three to four cups of tea daily may decrease appetite and lower body
She has also done
studies with tea extracts but has achieved better results using the
whole plant. "When the bioactive compounds interact, there is a
synergistic effect," she said. "I'm interested in learning exactly
how these compounds work together to protect the genetic material in
As herbal teas flood
the market, de Mejia is keeping an eye out for claims about their
safety and efficacy. A current de Mejia study involves mate tea,
another tea popular in Latin America, which is believed to have
The researcher said more studies are
needed to clarify the benefits of tea drinking in humans.
[University of Illinois news release]