Can tea consumption affect genetic activity?
Tea consumption has been linked to numerous health benefits, from a reduced risk of heart attack and high blood pressure to potential protection against certain types of cancer. Researchers have now found that drinking tea leads to biological effects that also seem to have a genetic impact. So consumption changes our genes, so to speak.
The researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that tea consumption can have an impact on human genes. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Human Molecular Genetics".
Tea can protect against heart attacks and certain types of cancer
Many people like to drink tea because of its good taste or stimulant effect. Drinking tea also leads to certain health benefits. Consumption even protects against heart attacks and certain types of cancer, say the Swedish experts. Most tea drinkers may be new to the fact that tea also affects our genes. Consumption could play a role in susceptibility to certain diseases and overall health.
In women, drinking tea leads to epigenetic changes in 28 different gene regions
Our lifestyle or environmental conditions can trigger chemical changes in our body. These changes can influence which genes are switched on or off, the researchers explain. In the current study, it became clear that drinking tea in women is associated with epigenetic changes in 28 different gene regions that interact with cancer or estrogen metabolism.
Coffee and tea affect the body in completely different ways
The consumption of coffee, however, does not lead to such epigenetic changes. This suggests that although both drinks are rich in antioxidants and may have health benefits, they still affect the body in completely different ways. These changes were not observed in men. One reason for this could be that tea influences women through estrogen-related pathways, the authors speculate. However, there were also fewer male tea drinkers in the study. This could have made it difficult to establish a significant association.
Doctors examined the data of more than 3,000 subjects
In their current study, the scientists analyzed the DNA samples from more than 3,000 adults who had participated in various studies across Europe. The analysis was adapted to age, gender and smoking status. No information was available on what type of tea people regularly consumed. However, we do know that most individuals drink black tea, according to the author Weronica Ek from Uppsala University. We cannot say exactly how long or how often a person needs to drink tea to experience these epigenetic changes, the expert adds.
What are the proven benefits of drinking tea?
A number of other studies have already shown that tea consumption can play a role in suppressing tumor progression, reducing inflammation, and may actually be a mechanism behind reported health effects, Ek adds.
Many factors affect the outcome of the study
There are many different factors involved in the health benefits of coffee and tea. For example, more coffee drinkers smoked cigarettes than tea drinkers did. This additional health burden alone could make it appear that tea drinkers are generally healthier in the end, explains the author.
Health-conscious people mostly drink tea
One reason could be that health-conscious people prefer tea over coffee because media reports that drinking tea is healthier. The findings about epigenetic changes are fascinating and in the future they can give an insight into how exactly the compounds in tea affect health, explains doctor Ek. (as)