Green tea products claim to provide various health benefits, but does green tea work? Population studies suggest that people who consume green tea may have lower cholesterol and may have a lower risk for various types of cancer, including bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer. At this point, there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that green tea really works for weight loss.
Does Green Tea Really Work?
You may have heard claims that green tea works wonders for a variety of different medical problems. However, are these claims really true? This article will address some of the questions you may have about the effectiveness of green tea for various uses, including:
Many supposed health benefits of green tea are based on studies known as population studies. These studies compare the natural habits of large groups of people, often based on lifestyle or dietary factors. For instance, studies have shown that Japanese men who drink more green tea have lower cholesterol, compared to Japanese men who drink less green tea. While this may suggest that green tea may help lower cholesterol, it is important to understand that the results of such studies can be due to numerous other factors. For instance, perhaps the men who drank more green tea ate more healthy diets, and perhaps the green tea itself had no effect on cholesterol. While population studies are good for gaining clues about risk factors, they rarely clearly establish "cause and effect" relationships.
Does Green Tea Work for High Cholesterol?
As discussed earlier, population studies suggest that people who drink more green tea may have lower cholesterol. Specifically, green tea intake is associated with lower total cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"), lower triglycerides, and higher HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol"). One study of a particular green tea extract also suggested that green tea may lower LDL levels. At this point, there is not enough evidence to know for sure whether green tea really works for cholesterol.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 31, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: green tea (May 2006). NCCAM Web site. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/greentea/. Accessed January 31, 2008.
Chantre P, Lairon D. Recent findings of green tea extract AR25 (Exolise) and its activity for the treatment of obesity. Phytomedicine 2002; 9(1): 3-8.
Kovacs EM, Lejeune MP, Nijs I, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effects of green tea on weight maintenance after body-weight loss. Br J Nutr 2004;91:431-7
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