Having a cup of tea just got even more relaxing.
Tea can be part of a healthy diet, and people who drink it may even be slightly more likely to live longer than those who don’t, according to a large study.
Tea contains beneficial substances that are known to help reduce inflammation. Previous studies in China and Japan, where green tea is popular, hinted at health benefits. The new study includes in the good news Britain’s favorite drink: black tea.
Scientists at the US National Cancer Institute surveyed nearly half a million adults in Britain to ask about their tea habits, then followed them for up to 14 years. They adjusted for risk factors such as health, socioeconomic status, smoking, alcohol use, diet, age, race, and gender.
Higher tea consumption “two or more cups a day” was linked with a modest benefit: Between 9% and 13% lower risk of death from any cause, compared with non-tea drinkers. The temperature of the tea, or adding milk or sugar, did not alter the results.
The study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the link held for deaths from coronary heart disease, but there was no clear trend for deaths from cancer. The researchers weren’t sure why, but there may not have been enough cancer deaths for any effect to be seen, said Maki Inoue-Choi, who led the study.
A study like this, based on observing people’s habits and health, cannot prove cause and effect.
Observational studies like these always raise the question: Is there something else about tea drinkers that makes them healthier?” said Marion Nestle, professor of food research at New York University. I like tea. I love it. But I think it would be a good idea to interpret the study results with caution.
There is not enough evidence to recommend changes in tea drinking habits, Inoue-Choi said.
If you already drink a cup a day, I think that’s a good thing, he said. And please enjoy your cup of tea.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.