By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
Healthnotes Newswire (July 22, 2010)—Other than pregnancy and regular use of birth control pills, there aren’t many steps a woman can take to reduce ovarian cancer risk. This makes this latest research, which points to the protective effects in the simple habit of drinking tea, all the more exciting.
Tapping into tea
To better understand how tea may affect ovarian cancer risk, researchers compared green, black, and herbal tea drinking habits of 1,368 women with and 1,416 women without ovarian cancer. The women were similar to one another in terms of age and area of residence.
Women who drank four or more cups of any type of tea per day were 29% less likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer compared with women who reported drinking no tea. When considered individually, each type of tea—green, black, and herbal—appeared to protect against ovarian cancer, although none of these results were statistically significant.
Beware of bias
This type of research, which is called a case-control study, should be considered with these limitations in mind: Women with ovarian cancer may remember their dietary habits differently than women without the disease. In addition, there may be other differences between women who do and do not drink tea, and those differences might influence ovarian cancer risk. The researchers did not account for all of these possible differences between the two groups of women, which can lead to bias and inaccurate results.
For comparison, the study authors also reviewed other existing research on tea and ovarian cancer. They found overall, the studies tend to agree that tea drinking may lower ovarian cancer risk. This consistency between different studies suggests a potential protection benefit of tea.
Optimizing ovarian health
To keep your ovaries functioning at optimum, try the following:
• Make tea time a habit. This study suggests that women need to drink tea daily in order to reduce ovarian cancer risk.
• Pick what you like. No one type of tea seemed to lower ovarian cancer risk better than any other. Drink whatever you like, whether it’s green, black, or herbal tea.
• Pay attention to your body. The symptoms of ovarian cancer, such as bloating and indigestion, can be vague and easily dismissed. Trust your instincts and see your doctor if anything feels off in your body.
• Keep your diet colorful. In addition to tea, research points to a diet rich in vegetables and fruit as a way to reduce ovarian cancer risk.
• Stay lean. Some studies suggest obesity may increase ovarian cancer risk. Maintain a healthy body weight for best health—of your ovaries and your entire body.
• Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, swimming, or exercise classes, are one more way to keep your ovaries in tip-top shape.
(Cancer Causes Control; e-pub ahead of print, May 20, 2010)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
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