Prostate cancer is one of the most frequent cancers diagnosed in older men. This common malignancy affects up to one in six one in six men often in the prime of their lives. Although often slow growing, the diagnosis of cancer can have life changing consequences. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A new human study suggests that green tea may be effective for prostate cancer prevention. Could green tea be a natural way to protect against this ubiquitous disease?
Green Tea for Prostate Cancer Prevention: A Study
In this small study which was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, a group of twenty-six men between the ages of forty-one and seventy-two were given a concentrated green tea extract containing green tea polyphenols each day for thirty-four days. At the end of this time, the men were found to have lower blood levels of certain growth factors associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, including the most common one, PSA. The men experienced no adverse reactions during the study and their liver enzymes remained normal while receiving the green tea extract. Some studies have shown that high doses of green tea polyphenols can elevate liver enzymes, which wasn’t seen in this study. This small study preliminarily suggests that green tea extract may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, although larger, randomized studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Green Tea or Green Tea Extract for Prostate Cancer Prevention?
This particular study looking at green tea for prostate cancer prevention used green tea extract, although it’s possible that the same effects would be seen from drinking green tea, If so, it’s likely that large quantities would be needed to get maximal benefits. A variety of animal studies have shown that green tea and green tea extracts can slow down the growth of prostate cancer. The risk of prostate cancer is much lower in Asian men and the risk rises when they adopt a Western diet. Asian men typically consume larger quantities of green tea than Western men, although other dietary factors such as soy could play a role in their lower risk of prostate cancer as well.
Should Men Take Green Tea Extract?
Should men at high risk of prostate cancer add green tea extract to their diet? While this study looks promising, especially when combined with the results of animal research, large randomized trials are needed before green tea extract can be recommended. Green tea extracts can have side effects including increased stomach acidity and it’s still unclear whether high doses cause liver damage. A better approach until further data comes out would be to drink four to six cups of organic green tea daily to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Because this would result in a significant intake of caffeine, it may not be a good option for anyone with sensitivity to caffeine or other medical problems.
The bottom line? Drinking green tea may not only be effective for prostate cancer prevention, but it may offer other health benefits as well. Adding a moderate amount of green tea to the diet may be an inexpensive way to preserve prostate health.