Everyone has heard of at least some of the health benefits of green tea. Research has focused on the potential prevention aspects of green tea when it comes to breast cancer.
But what of other types of tea? Few studies have looked past green tea to other forms of tea to see if they also had any possibility for lowering a woman’s risk for acquiring breast cancer.
Well, it turns out green tea isn’t the only game in town. A new study from Saint Louis University looked at the potential benefits of oolong tea and found it to have very similar positive effects on breast cancer.
The new study looked specifically at four different types of tea: green, black, dark, and oolong. This hasn’t been the focus of any specific breast cancer (or any other cancer) research previously. Chunfa Huang, Ph.D., an associate research professor in the department of internal medicine at Saint Louis University in Missouri was the team lead on the research. The team published its findings in January in the journal Anticancer Research.
For this study, the Saint Louis University team examined the effect of different concentrations of the four tea extracts on six breast cancer cell lines. These lines included ER-positive, PR-positive- HER2-positive, and triple-negative breast cancer cells.
Once the cancer cells were treated with the different tea extract concentrations, the researchers examined the viability of the cells and measured the DNA damage and cleavage (splitting), along with other changes in the cells.
While green tea has gotten the lion’s share of the press for its potential to improve health, it appears oolong tea could merit an equal look. That’s because the Saint Louis University team found the extracts of green tea and oolong tea stopped growth of all types of breast cancer cells. The black and dark tea extracts had no effect on the cells.
“Oolong tea, same as green tea, can induce DNA damage and cleavage, play an inhibitory role in breast cancer cell growth, proliferation, and tumorigenesis, and has great potential as a chemopreventive agent against breast cancer,” Huang writes in the research summary.
Trends in China
In additional to their lab work, the scientists examined cancer registry statistics in China, along with consumption of oolong tea. Specifically, they found that people in Fujian province (where consumption of oolong tea is high) were 35 percent less likely to have breast cancer and 38 percent less likely to die from breast cancer compared with the national average.
The study notes that people who consumed large amounts of oolong tea on a regular basis were 25 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared with the average incidence in the Fujian province and 50 percent less likely compared with the national average.
The last statistic they looked at in the Fajian province was the odds of dying prematurely. Compared with the national Chinese average, heavy drinkers of oolong tea in the province were 68 percent less likely to die prematurely.
There seems to be an obvious link between oolong tea consumption and lower rates of breast cancer and premature death. The study advocated more research directly on the role oolong team could play.
“From our results, oolong tea, much like green tea, plays a role in inhibiting breast cancer cell growth, proliferation, and tumor progression,” Huang writes in the study conclusion.