Should you drink so much green tea you get pash rash, is it a beverage to take home to meet the parents, or is it an over-hyped slap addict of a drink in need of a makeunder?
First there is the good news. Drinking green tea daily may substantially reduce your chance of getting cardiovascular disease.
A 1994 study of 40,000 people in Japan found that those who drank more than five cups of green tea per day had a 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed less than one cup per day. Since the Japanese have been drinking green tea for a really long time and have comparatively low rates of cardiovascular disease, that kinda makes sense.
You’re probably thinking it’s all those “antioxidants” you keep hearing about, but you’d be wrong. Antioxidants are the Crane Kick of combating heart disease – it’s all just dancing around with dramatic music but it’s not really a very effective way to compete in a Karate competition.
There is some actual evidence however that the polyphenols in green tea reduces your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), but also doesn’t reduce your HDL cholesterol (the good stuff), which is the kind of effect that pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars trying to put into a pill to treat heart disease.
So green tea is snog-worthy – drink at least 5 cups of it per day for a healthy heart.
So you might be thinking – five cups per day of green tea sounds like a lot, can’t I just pop some green tea extract pills every day instead? Even better, if green tea has polyphenols in it that are good for my heart, then why don’t I just take those green tea supplements that have 50 times as much polyphenols in them and then I’ll get a heart that is 50 times better right?
Well like Aldberan Whiskey, all good things are only good when they are in moderation – or served in fancy tea sets. While polyphenols are awesome at preventing heart disease, they can be toxic in large amounts, leading to liver and kidney damage.
In one study, a number of rather unlucky dogs and rodents paid the ultimate price of a green tea supplement overdose – they got liver poisoning and died.
The risk of green tea overdose comes down to how you consume it – drink it and be merry, but pop pills and run the risk of an overdose.
Even if you drink 10 cups of green tea per day in a fancy tea set (or a really ugly one) not only are the levels of polyphenols at more human-acceptable levels, you’ll be drinking so much water along with it that your body is just going to flush any excesses down the toilet (literally and figuratively).
Plus, nothing says “marriage material” like drinking tea out of a fancy tea set – particularly if there are Iced VoVo’s involved.
Many cancer patients drink green tea because of its perceived benefits in preventing or treating many types of cancer. However, it appears that in some circumstances, drinking green tea might be more of a hindrance for some type of cancer patients than others.
First of all there are the other results from the previous study mentioned of 40,000 people that showed that those who drank 5 cups of tea per day had 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. While they had less risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, there appeared to be no observed reduction in cancer rates for those who regularly drank more green tea compared to those who didn’t.
So basically, there isn’t much evidence that green tea prevents cancer. For some cancer patients however, taking green tea supplements (and even drinking large amounts of green tea) might actually be harmful.
Myeloma is a common type of blood cancer that is often treated with a drug commonly sold under the brand name of Velcade. A 2008 study that originally hoped to discover possible beneficial effects of combining green tea with cancer treatments found instead that the high levels of polyphenols in the green tea supplements were actually deactivating the Velcade and preventing the drug from having any positive impact.
Again, the level of the dosage was an important factor – the levels of polyphenols needed to be present in the blood to deactivate the Velcade were typical of those taking green tea supplements, but not so typical of those who just drank it.
This study did have some big implications however. Firstly, Velcade is ineffective for one in three patients, which might actually be due to those patients drinking too much green tea and/or taking green tea supplements with their medication since green tea is often also recommended for cancer patients.
The second implications is that those who take green tea supplements to reduce the side effects of Velcade such as extreme fatigue, might actually be seeing a false benefit – the reason why drinking green tea reduces the negative side effects of Velcade is possibly because it is actually reducing the effectiveness of the drug in the first place.
So if you are on Velcade, or a drug that works in a similar fashion, it’s probably a good idea to avoid drinking green tea – or at the very least, definitely avoid green tea supplements.
The Green Tea Conclusion
So you should snog green tea 5 times a day for good heart health, marry green tea over a fancy green tea set, but avoid green tea supplements and pill popping, particularly if you are on certain medications.