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Drinking black tea could lower mortality risk, study suggests

WWhile green tea has a long-standing reputation for its health benefits, research has been much more mixed on black tea. One problem, says Maki Inoue-Choi, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, is that large observational studies of tea and mortality have focused on countries like Japan and China, places where green tea is most popular.

To fill this gap, Inoue-Choi and her colleagues analyzed data in the United Kingdom, where black tea is commonly drunk. After surveying some 500,000 people and following them for an average of 11 years, the results, published August 29 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, gave a boost to black tea. Among the population of tea drinkers, 89% of whom drank black tea, compared to 7% who drank green tea, drinking tea was associated with a modestly lower mortality risk for those who drank two or more cups a day compared to non-drinkers. People who added milk or sugar also experienced the benefit, and the results remained consistent regardless of the temperature of the tea. The findings also indicate that tea drinkers had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke than non-tea drinkers.

While it’s hard to say why people who drink tea may live longer, it’s not entirely a surprise. According to Inoue-Choi, the tea is “very rich in bioactive compounds” that reduce stress and inflammation, including polyphenols and flavonoids.

a 2020 to study which used the same British database as the new research found that there is an association between higher consumption of black and green tea and biomarkers that predict cardiometabolic health, including lower cholesterol levels. Research has also suggested that the tea may help lower blood pressure.

In the future, researchers should take a closer look at the connection between tea and cardiovascular disease, says Rob M. van Dam, professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. , who was not involved in the study. One surprising aspect of the new research, he notes, is that there is no association between increasing the dose of tea (how much a person consumes) and decreasing mortality after the person has consumed two or three cups. The exception, he said, is if you eliminate coffee drinkers, who may have made it more difficult to detect an association between increasing the amount of tea they drink and mortality because they had lower mortality during the study. Without the coffee drinkers, it became clearer that drinking tea was associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease. “The association between tea consumption and cardiovascular mortality may be driving the association between tea consumption and all-cause mortality,” says van Dam.

However, none of this is to say that you should run to your kettle. The new research is based on an observational study, which means that the evidence was not obtained from an experiment and the results were inferred by the researchers. The findings should not be used to make health decisions and should be replicated in randomized clinical trials, experts say. Also, the magnitude of the association between tea drinking and mortality was modest, meaning it’s likely that another characteristic of tea drinkers might have led to this effect, van Dam says. For example, people who hypothetically tea drinkers might have been less likely to consume soft drinks.

As Inoue-Choi said, the new findings should be reassuring for people who drink tea regularly. But “people shouldn’t change the number of cups of tea they should drink every day because of these results,” she says.

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