By: Karin Heineman, Inside Science
(Inside Science TV) – Shelley Tworoger, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital located in Boston, Massachusetts studied ovarian cancer.
"This is one of the largest and oldest cohort studies in the world. We followed over 230,000 women over several decades and every two years they answered questionnaires about their lifestyle and health, in particular we asked them every 4 years to report back to us the kinds of foods that they eat. We used this information to look at what women ate and we followed them up to see who got ovarian cancer and who didn't," said Tworoger.
Each year about 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Most of those diagnoses come after the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
"Ovarian cancer is a really difficult disease it's very deadly, within five years of diagnosis, over 50 percent of women with an ovarian cancer diagnosis have died," said Tworoger.
Now, new results from studying the cohort – or group – study over 30 years reveal that women who consume tea have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
"Women who had two or more cups of tea per day had about a 30 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to women who had one or less cups of tea per day," explained Tworoger.
That's good news for tea lovers. Tea contains powerful natural compounds called flavanoids that help protect the body against disease and possibly some cancers.
"We think these compounds help reduce inflammation and they have what's called antioxidant properties, so they help reduce stress inside your body cells," said Tworoger.
The compounds are also found in broccoli, kale, red wine and citrus fruits. The study found that drinking a daily glass of orange juice could also help reduce of the risk of ovarian cancer, but not as well as tea.
"We found that high consumption of oranges and orange juice was associated with a suggestively lower risk of ovarian cancer, although the association wasn't significant," Tworoger said.
Flavanoids are already found in most people's diets, so what do researchers suggest?
"The underlying message here is to continue to eat a healthy diet and some of the ways that you can do that are by consuming more tea and citrus fruits," Tworoger suggests.
Image: Fruit cluster from a young "DaisySL" tree. (Photo Credit: T. Williams, Roose lab, UC Riverside.
Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV. She has produced over 600 video news segments on science, technology, engineering and math in the past 13 years for Inside Science TV and its predecessor, Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science. Reprinted with permission from Inside Science, an editorially independent news product of the American Institute of Physics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and serving the physical sciences.