Anti-Cancer Food Spotlight: Green Tea

A green tea mix. Photo: Francois Schnell

Green tea is a great example of an anti-cancer food that can help reduce your risk of breast cancer, especially in combination with other lifestyle changes.

What Is Green Tea?

Tea is from the plant Camellia sinensis. It is the leaves of this plant that are harvested to be used for tea. How they are processed after harvesting is what makes the difference. Soon after harvesting the leaves begin to wilt and oxidation starts. The chemicals in the leaf are broken down by enzymes which cause the darkening of the leaves. This process also activates the aroma of tea. It is when and if the oxidation process is interrupted that the formation of the different teas takes place. Black tea is the result of wilting, bruising and then rolling, followed by full oxidization. Green tea is made from unwilted leaves that are not oxidized. Dry heat or steam is used to stop the oxidation process and then the leaves are dried.

What Makes Tea Great For Your Breast Health?

One of the compounds found in tea is polyphenols. This group contains one of the plant chemicals called catechins. Catchins are the group of chemicals that are thought to produce the health benefits attributed to tea. Since green tea is the lesser processed tea, it retains the larger amount of catechin. The most active catechin in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This is what makes green tea an anti-cancer tool.

The activity of EGCG that many feel is the beneficial action, is the fact it may repair oxidative damage to cells. These polyphenol antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that cause damage to the cells, helping them bind together. All of this has been studied and the results vary from test to test. The fact that cancer is less prevalent in countries where tea is heavily consumed, speaks for itself to many. One report by the University of Maryland Medical Center ( stated:

“However, when the researchers broke down the sample by age, they found that women under the age of 50 who consumed 3 or more cups of tea per day were 37% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn’t drink tea.”

Tea can be prepared with or without milk, as that does not affect the beneficial compounds.

An Additional Benefit: Stress Reduction

Many people feel their daily ritual of preparing and drinking tea helps them de-stress. It slows the pace of the day for the few minutes that it takes to steep. Make that moment even better by having a special tea cup just for your green tea. Look for a unique 2-cup tea pot. You don’t have to spend a lot. You could make or purchase a tea cozy to keep the waiting cup of tea warm in the pot. Make the whole ritual and enjoyment of your tea, a quiet, and stress free point in your day and feel good knowing you are reducing your risk of breast cancer with every cup.