Tea drinkers can live longer, new study shows

In a new study, researchers found that drinking tea at least three times a week is linked with longer and healthier life.

They found frequent tea drinking is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause death.

The health benefits are the most robust for green tea and for long-term tea drinkers.

The research was conducted by a team at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

The team examined 100,902 participants of the China-PAR project 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 about 7years.

The team found habitual tea drinking was linked to more healthy years of life and longer life expectancy.

For example, 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.

Compared with never or non-habitual tea drinkers, habitual tea consumers had a 20% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 22% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 15% decreased risk of all-cause death.

The potential influence of changes in tea drinking behavior was analyzed in 14,081 participants.

The team found habitual tea drinkers who maintained their habit in both surveys had a 39% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke, 56% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke, and 29% decreased risk of all-cause death compared to consistent never or non-habitual tea drinkers.

The protective effects of tea were most pronounced among the consistent habitual tea drinking group.

Previous studies have suggested that the main bioactive compounds in tea, namely polyphenols, are not stored in the body long-term.

Thus, frequent tea intake over an extended period may be necessary for heart health.

The team also found drinking green tea was linked with approximately 25% lower risks for incident heart disease and stroke, fatal heart disease and stroke, and all-cause death.

However, no strong benefits were observed for black tea.

According to the team, two factors play a role. First, green tea is a rich source of polyphenols that protect against cardiovascular disease and its risk factors including high blood pressure and dyslipidemia.

Black tea is fully fermented and during this process, polyphenols are oxidized into pigments and may lose their antioxidant effects.

Second, black tea is often served with milk, which previous research has shown may counteract the favorable health effects of tea on vascular function.

Further analyses showed that the protective effects of habitual tea consumption were pronounced and robust across different outcomes for men, but only modest for women.

One reason might be that 48% of men were habitual tea consumers compared to just 20% of women. Secondly, women had a much lower incidence of, and mortality from, heart disease and stroke.

Future work is needed to confirm the findings and provide evidence for dietary guidelines and lifestyle recommendations.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Xinyan Wang from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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