Drinking Tea Changes Women’s Genes: New research shows that tea consumption in women causes epigenetic changes in genes that interact with cancer and estrogen metabolism.
A new study conducted at Uppsala University, Sweden has proven that drinking tea causes epigenetic changes in women. The team published their results in the medical journal ‘Human Molecular Genetics. The study was spearheaded by Weronica Ek from the university’s Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology.
Epigenetics is the study of physical changes that result from differences in the way genes express themselves. While the underlying genetic codes remain the same, affected genes act differently when influenced by environmental and lifestyle factors.
Previous studies have conclusively shown that smoking, diet, exposure to chemicals, and level of physical activity can cause gene functions to mutate. These mutations can contribute to the development of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
Beverage Consumption Study
Medical research has confirmed that consuming coffee and tea reduces the risks of certain diseases. These drinks are known to stop the growth of tumors, reduce inflammation, and increase the body’s ability to process estrogen. However, the exact chemical mechanism that provides these benefits is unknown. Researchers believe these side effects are due to epigenetic changes caused by the ingredients in the drinks.
In their research, the Uppsala team found that female tea drinkers showed changes in genes that affect cancer and estrogen metabolism. These changes were not found in male participants. This may be because the active compounds in tea only affect the estrogen hormones, which are more abundant in the female body. Researchers have also theorized that, on average, women consume more tea than men, making the effects more pronounced.
Higher estrogen levels positively indicate a higher risk for certain cancers. Increasing the body’s ability to process estrogen can significantly reduce this risk.
Coffee has not been observed to mediate epigenetic changes.
Effects and Future Research
The results of the study prove that the pharmacologically active compounds in tea affect cancer production and estrogen metabolism. This is consistent with previous studies that demonstrated a link between tea-drinking mothers and “in vitro” epigenetic changes. However, this study does not indicate whether tea drinking is healthy, and more research is needed to better understand how the epigenetic changes uncovered in this study affect our health. These results have also been observed in previous laboratory experiments using cultured cancer cells.
While the effects of tea have been confirmed, the precise chemical mechanism used to elicit the changes is not yet understood. To translate these findings into usable treatments, researchers will need to identify the active compounds and how they are used by the body.