Can drinking tea cut mortality risk?

A nice, hot cup of tea can feel soothing and relaxing – but it can do more than just lighten your mood. Some new research has emerged that consuming tea on a regular basis may lower your risk of mortality.

We know the benefits of green tea on your health, since green tea is high in flavonoids which have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. But it seems that drinking tea in general – even black tea – is beneficial overall, and can have a positive effect on your longevity.

Of course, drinking tea isn’t an all-in-one solution to ageing and age-related degeneration. But drinking tea does seem to help, and this article will talk about the link between tea and mortality, plus the benefits of including tea in your diet.

So – can drinking tea cut mortality risk?

The objective of the study was to assess the association between tea consumption and “all-cause” or “specific-cause” mortality. [1] Almost 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69 participated, all of whom had previously completed the baseline questionnaire.

The study measured self-reported consumption of tea versus mortality from all/leading causes of death. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory disease

After a follow-up of 11.2 years, researchers found a modest association between consuming 2+ cups of tea per day and a lower all-cause risk of mortality. They also observed inverse associations in mortality due to cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and stroke.

These findings remained consistent regardless of additional coffee consumption nor of caffeine metabolism.

The researchers did not account for controlled serving size and brewed strength.

Results of this study has suggested that consuming 2+ cups of tea per day is associated with a lower mortality risk. This means that tea has a positive effect on a person’s longevity and can be a recommended part of a healthy diet.

These findings remained consistent regardless of additional coffee consumption nor of caffeine metabolism.

Why tea is good for your health?

Tea contains a high concentration of polyphenols – naturally-occuring bioactive ingredients found in many plant-based foods. Polyphenols such as theaflavins or flavonoids act as antioxidants, which play key roles in combating age-related degeneration.

Degenerative illnesses such as cancer and arthritis develop, in part, due to “oxidative stress.” This oxidative stress is caused by an excess amount of free radicals in our body, which damage our cells. While we naturally produce a moderate amount of free radicals through cellular metabolism, external factors such as pollution or medication can cause an accumulation in our systems.

Antioxidants combat and neutralise oxidative stress. And since tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, it can benefit your health. [2]

Additional hypothetical benefits of polyphenols include protective effects versus acute and chronic diseases [3], such as:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease

There are other benefits of consuming tea, such as improved cognitive function and reduced inflammation.

Polyphenols such as theaflavins or flavonoids act as antioxidants, which play key roles in combating age-related degeneration

Do milk and sugar change the outcome?

No, they do not. 

Adding milk or sugar had little effect on the associated benefits of consuming tea on a regular basis. Adding sugar may, however, elevate your blood sugar levels, which is detrimental to your health.

Results were similarly consistent regardless of the temperature of the tea during consumption. [4]

Including tea in your diet

Now of course, this doesn’t mean you should immediately go out and purchase black or green tea in bulk. Nor should you add it in large quantities to your diet. 

The study is largely observational and based on self-reported data, without controlled parameters to strengthen the connection.

People should not be using it as a reference for decisions on their personal health, and should not start consuming plenty of tea per day. The data from the study should be peer-reviewed and replicated in controlled, randomised clinical studies and trials before it can be taken as fact.

There’s also the caveat that the decrease in mortality risk isn’t more pronounced the more tea you drink. There’s no association between an increased “dose” of tea and lower mortality past 2–3 cups per day. [5] This means that drinking 4, 5, or more cups of tea will not make you live longer – and it may even have adverse effects on your health instead.

Side effects of tea consumption

There are several side effects to consuming tea. People who are caffeine-sensitive may experience negative effects when consuming large amounts of tea. This includes effects such as:

  • Feelings of anxiety or jitteriness
  • Insomnia
  • Stomachache or nausea
  • Irritability

People who consume certain prescription medications such as nadolol, clozapine, and verapamil may need to exercise caution when consuming drinks containing catechins.

Consuming large amounts of tea may also stain your teeth. Tea contains tannins, which are water-soluble polyphenols present in plant-based products. Dark teas such as black tea are more susceptible to causing discolouration. 

Other side effects of consuming tea include insomnia or stomach irritation due to the caffeine content. The intake of over a litre of tea a day is also linked to iron deficiency due to the way tea interferes with your body’s absorption and processing of iron.

Tea and longevity

Essentially, the study showed a correlation between tea consumption (2+ cups a day) and a lower risk of mortality, but could not establish a causative relationship. This means that tea intake could be related to longevity, but it’s not definitive and should not prompt people to self-medicate with tea. It does mean, however, that people who currently drink tea may enjoy certain health benefits, and people who do not can consider adding it to their diet.

There is a slightly more significant association between tea and lowered risk of death by cardiovascular disease, which is promising. There have also been studies linking tea with a lower risk of stroke or dementia. [6] Scientists and researchers need to conduct more in-depth, controlled studies, but for now – there’s no harm in brewing a second or third cuppa for the day.

REFERENCES

[1] https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.7326/M22-0041
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6160559/
[4] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drinking-black-tea-daily-may-lower-mortality-risk
#Do-milk-and-sugar-have-an-effect
?
[5] https://time.com/6209331/black-tea-lower-mortality-risk/
[6] https://www.theguardian.com/food/2022/aug/29/
drinking-tea-may-be-linked-to-lower-risk-of-death-study-suggests
 

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.