Can Drinking Green Tea Prolong your Life?

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A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology showed an association between drinking tea and a longer life. “Habitual tea consumption is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death,” said first author Dr. Xinyan Wang, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China. “The favorable health effects are the most robust for green tea and for long-term habitual tea drinkers.”

According to a Science News article about the study:

The analysis included 100,902 participants of the China-PAR project2 with no history of heart attack, stroke, or cancer. Participants were classified into two groups: habitual tea drinkers (three or more times a week) and never or non-habitual tea drinkers (less than three times a week) and followed-up for a median of 7.3 years. Habitual tea consumption was associated with more healthy years of life and longer life expectancy. For example, the analyses estimated that 50-year-old habitual tea drinkers would develop coronary heart disease and stroke 1.41 years later and live 1.26 years longer than those who never or seldom drank tea.

My take: As with all observational studies, there’s no way to prove from these results that drinking green tea actually reduces your risk of death. And even if it does, the degree of risk reduction is quite modest. But if you like green tea, you can be reasonably assured drinking it regularly isn’t harming you!

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  • “But if you like green tea, you can be reasonably assured drinking it regularly isn’t harming you!” Unless you happen to be taking one or more of the drugs that are reported to interact with green tea.

    For example, bortezomib, for which Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center says: “EGCG and other polyphenols can inhibit the therapeutic effect of bortezomib and other boronic acid based proteasome inhibitors” (citing to Goldin EB, Lam P, Kardosh A, et al., “Green tea polyphenols block the anticancer effects of bortezomib and other boronic acid based proteasome inhibitors” Blood 2009 Jun 4;113(23):5927-37). Other anti-cancer drugs are also affected, or at least suggested from animal data to be affected, by EGCG, including tamoxifen (increased bioavailability), irinotecan (inhibition of biliary excretino), and palbociclib (decreased bioavailability).
    Other drugs are also affected: see https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/green-tea, and look under Herb-Drug Interactions.