9 Reasons Green Tea Could Add Years to Your Life
As you know by now, my expertise is urology. Prostate problems, bladder trouble, erectile dysfunction — this is the meat and potatoes of my practice. So it goes without saying that you’ll hear me talk about those subjects. A lot...
It also explains why so many guys eventually ask me whom they should see for help with out of control blood sugar. Or weight loss. Or cholesterol and blood pressure concerns.
At that point, I inform them that they don’t need to go anywhere. Because I can help with all of that, too. The entire basis of integrative medicine is that you treat the whole person — not just his prostate or his bladder.
That’s why so many of the recommendations you’ll see me offer here really do run the gamut of usefulness. My favorite supplements — the ones I would suggest everyone take — are the ones with a whole lot of notches on their proverbial belts.
Green tea is a standout among them — absolutely one of my top ten. And the results of a recent study make really fast work of showing why...
First, some quick background: Compounds called catechins — and most particularly, a powerful catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) — are the main active cancer fighters in green tea. Published research shows that these catechins can slam the breaks on cancer cell growth, induce cancer cell death (a process called apoptosis), and both prevent and shrink tumors in animal models.
But the study I want to share with you today focused on real-world benefits. Namely, researchers wanted to see what a steady stream of green tea catechins for one year could do for men diagnosed with two different types of high-risk, potentially precancerous prostate lesions: high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP).
To do this, researchers split nearly 100 guys into two groups. Half took 200 mg of green tea extract, standardized to EGCG, twice per day. (Adding up to 400 mg of green tea catechins daily.) The other half took a placebo.
At the end of the year, results showed that, in men with HGPIN, green tea catechins lowered the combined rate of developing ASAP and prostate cancer. This study also showed that men taking green tea had a significant drop in PSA levels — which, as I’ve explained before, is still a really important part of the prostate cancer puzzle.1
This particular study didn’t show a significant difference in overall prostate cancer cases between the two groups. But the benefits are still noteworthy — especially in relation to previous research, which has clearly demonstrated the protective effect of green tea in men with HGPIN.
In fact, a 2006 placebo-controlled study of 60 Italian men showed that, after taking 600 mg of green tea catechins daily for six months, six of the 30 men in the placebo group were diagnosed with prostate cancer. But none of the 30 subjects in the green tea catechin group were diagnosed with prostate cancer.2
After one year, nine men in the placebo group — and only one man in the green tea catechin group — were diagnosed with prostate cancer. And follow-up results, published two years later in 2008, showed that these protective effects were long-lasting, too.3
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Hold up — these studies are about prostate cancer. True, they are. (And their results are particularly compelling, too, given that they’re actual placebo-controlled trials, instead of your typical epidemiological fare.)
But this isn’t the only green tea research out there. Not by a long shot. So while I’m already bending your ear, here are nine more reasons you need to get some green tea in your life... regardless of your gender, age, or the state of your prostate:
It fights more than just prostate cancer. In fact, published research shows benefits against bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, esophageal, lung, pancreatic, skin, and stomach cancers, too.4 Not exactly a short list.
It supercharges immunity. A 2007 placebo-controlled trial of healthy adults between 18 and 70 years old showed that daily green tea supplementation slashed cold and flu symptom incidence by 32%, overall illness incidence by 29%, and symptom duration by nearly 36%. Subjects taking green tea also boosted the activity of virus-fighting T cells significantly.5
It drives down high blood sugar. A 2013 meta-analysis of 17 different trials showed that green tea consumption can dramatically reduce fasting insulin, fasting glucose, and HbA1C levels. (The latter being a key measure of long-term blood sugar control).6
It combats Alzheimer’s and dementia. Recent research suggests that EGCG from green tea can help to combat the clumping of beta-amyloid proteins — one of the calling cards of Alzheimer’s disease — in the brain.7 And that it may enhance working memory processing as well.8
It protects your teeth and gums. A 2009 study of nearly 1,000 middle-aged men showed that regular green tea consumption was associated with a significant reduction in periodontal disease.9
It helps build healthy bones. Lab experiments suggest that green tea catechins block the activity of osteoclasts (cells that weaken and break down bones) while activating osteoblasts. (Those are your bone-building cells.)10
It battles superbugs. Believe it or not, combining green tea with antibiotic treatment can increase these drugs' killing power by as much as 100 % — increasing effectiveness even against drug-resistant superbugs.11
It reins in cholesterol and keeps your arteries free-flowing and flexible. In fact, drinking five cups of green tea per day may cut your risk of dying of heart disease by more than 25%.12
It fires up your body’s fat-burning centers. There’s definitely some truth behind the hype: Published research does in fact show that green tea extract triggers thermogenesis, revs up metabolism, and promotes fat oxidation.13
So what are you waiting for? If you’re not already, you need to start taking green tea yesterday. Here are my recommendations for getting the most bang for your buck, so to speak...
If you prefer to drink your catechins, three to five cups of green tea daily seems to be what’s required for prostate cancer, based on data. (I call this the LTA — lowest therapeutic amount — and it’s important to know.)
You’ll find this kind of “dosage” range in most of the observational data out there. So it’s a smart goal to aim for... with some caveats.
Most importantly, steer clear of sweeteners that will counteract the benefits. And be wary of the caffeine content — which is only half of what you’d find in a cup of coffee, but could still be problematic if you’re sensitive to it. (Particularly if you have trouble sleeping or are dealing with urinary issues.)
In my experience, supplements have the upper hand here — the main advantage being reliable dosage. (Something that’s harder to nail down with brewed tea.) So your best bet for achieving the results in these studies is to look for a product standardized to EGCG — the good stuff.
Take a dose that comes in somewhere around 600 mg of green tea extract. And do it every day.
Stay tuned and stay well,
Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, C.N.S., is a renowned naturopathic doctor recognized as an authority in integrative management of male and urological conditions. Dr. Geo is the founder and director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), a center of excellence in research and integrative treatments for urological conditions.
1. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. "Component in green tea may help reduce prostate cancer in men at high risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528145210.htm>.
2. Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F, et al.: Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by oral administration of green tea catechins in volunteers with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: a preliminary report from a one-year proof-of-principle study. Cancer Res 66 (2): 1234-40, 2006.
3. Brausi M, Rizzi F, Bettuzzi S: Chemoprevention of human prostate cancer by green tea catechins: two years later. A follow-up update. Eur Urol 54 (2): 472-3, 2008.
4. Green Tea, University of Maryland Medical Center: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea
5. Rowe CA, Nantz MP, Bukowski JF, Percival SS. Specific formulation of Camellia sinensis prevents cold and flu symptoms and enhances gammadelta T cell function: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(5):445-52.
6. Liu K, et al. “Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):340-8.
7. Hyung SJ, et al. “Insights into antiamyloidogenic properties of the green tea extract (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate toward metal-associated amyloid-β species.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Mar 5;110(10):3743-8.
8. Schmidt A, et al. “Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Oct;231(19):3879-88.
9. Kushiyama et al. Relationship Between Intake of Green Tea and Periodontal Disease. Journal of Periodontology, 2009; 80 (3): 372.
10. Ko et al. Effects of Tea Catechins, Epigallocatechin, Gallocatechin, and Gallocatechin Gallate, on Bone Metabolism. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (16): 7293.
11. Society for General Microbiology. "Green Tea Helps Beat Superbugs, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. 1 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080330200640.htm>.
12. JAMA and Archives Journals. "Consumption Of Green Tea Associated With Reduced Mortality In Japanese Adults." ScienceDaily. 13 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060913100352.htm>.
13. Dulloo AG, et al. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.