By Marcus Stout
Each year more and more research is conducted on how to reduce your risk of developing cancer. For some forms of cancer, it’s fairly simple to understand how to reduce risk.
For example, we know that most lung cancer victims are smokers, and that many cases of skin cancer are caused by unprotected over exposure to the sun. For other cancers, understanding how to reduce our risk is not so simple, because we don’t really understand what causes them.
Even in cancers that we don’t fully understand, scientists are working to determine how our lifestyle might increase our risks. For example, a study was conducted in Nagoya, Japan to help better understand the lifestyle factors that might contribute to the development of urinary bladder cancer.
The study also evaluated lifestyle habits that actually reduce your risk of bladder cancer. The findings were interesting, and can help us make lifestyle choices that can protect our health.
This study examined the following lifestyle habits and their ability to increase or reduce risk for urinary bladder cancer:
Cigarette Smoking – Cigarette Smoking was found to increase the risk of developing urinary bladder cancer. The increased risk was more significant in women than men.
Drinking cocoa – Interestingly enough, drinking cocoa was associated with an elevation in risk of urinary bladder cancer in men, but not in women.
Hair Color – Women who used hair color had a slightly elevated risk of developing urinary bladder cancer if they also smoke. However, non smoking women had no significant risk factor if they used hair color.
Drinking coffee- Coffee drinking showed no elevated risk – but it showed no benefit, either.
Drinking alcohol – No significant risk was associated with alcohol intake.
Drinking sodas – No significant risk was associated with drinking sodas.
Drinking fruit juice- Fruit juice was associated with a decreased risk in developing urinary bladder cancer in men. No risk or benefit was notable in women.
Drinking Tea – Women who drank black tea and powdered green tea showed a reduced risk of developing urinary bladder cancer. The figures for men showed no increase or decrease of risk.
What’s So Great About Tea and Fruit?
This study echoes the findings of many other studies, indicating that tea and fruit are of benefit in preventing cancer. Scientists are now fully beginning to understand how important these substances are to protecting our health. But, why are they so important? Well, the answer is in anti-oxidants.
Anti-oxidants have the power to combat free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally by our body during the process of converting the food we eat to energy. These free radicals speed up the aging process, and can cause clogged arteries, cancer and other disease by damaging our cells and DNA.
Fruits, vegetables and tea are filled with anti-oxidants. A diet rich in these foods, therefore, help rid our bodies of the free radicals that put our health at risk. Some foods and beverages have more potent anti-oxidants than others. Doctors recommend that we make these “super foods” part of our everyday life.
All fresh fruits are rich in anti-oxidants. However, the ones that are the most potent include blueberries, pomegranates, strawberries and cranberries.
Again, fresh vegetables supply a good dose of anti-oxidants. Tomatoes, which contain lycopene, are one of the best vegetables you can eat. However, artichokes and red beans are also very good anti-oxidant sources.
Tea is a simple way to get your anti-oxidants. Tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. There are many types of tea on the market, but all tea comes from the same plant.
The difference between green, white and black tea comes from the way the tea is processed. Black tea is fermented; white and green are not. Green and white tea have been found to be better sources of anti-oxidants because they fermenting that black tea goes through changes the anti-oxidants into compounds that are not as healthy.
The study quoted above found that black tea had the same benefits as green tea in preventing urinary bladder cancer in women. However, most other studies conducted on the benefits of tea have concluded that green tea is better.
Green tea began gaining attention because of the significantly lower incidence of cancer and heart disease in Asian culture. Even though Asians are more likely to smoke than Americans, they have lower incidence of cancer and heart disease – even lung cancer. It appears that their high consumption of green tea protects their health in a way that other dietary habits do not.
Research has even suggested that green tea may be effective at treating patients who already have cancer. Several studies, on different forms of cancer, have shown that traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, are more effective when green tea is administered along with the treatment.
Green tea seems to increase the concentration of the drugs in the cancerous cells and slows down cancer progression, perhaps even preventing metastasis.
Much of the research that has been performed has been on mice or in-vitro, though the study outlined above was performed on humans. The next step in truly understanding how foods, including tea, can protect our health, preventing cancer and other disease, is to conduct more human trials.
The results could take years, because human trials on prevention require following subjects over a long period of time.
Preventing cancer is a national health concern. Certainly, much more study is required before we can gain true understanding of how to protect our health. One thing’s for sure, however; a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and tea is a good start!