How Drinking Tea May Change Your Genes

Source: Huffington Post

Jun 02, 2017
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Tea has been linked to numerous health benefits, from a reduced risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure to potential protection against certain cancers. Now, a study suggests that the biological effects of the beverage may extend to the genetic level: Drinking tea might change how DNA is expressed, which could play a role in disease susceptibility and overall health.

Behavior or environment can trigger chemical modifications in the body that affect which genes are turned on and off, the study of which is known as epigenetics. In the new study, published in Human Molecular Genetics, tea drinking for women was associated with epigenetic changes in 28 different gene regions known to interact with cancer or estrogen metabolism.

Coffee, on the other hand, was not associated with epigenetic changes—suggesting that while both beverages are rich in antioxidants and seem to have health benefits, they may affect the body in different ways. These changes were also not seen in men who drank tea. This could be because tea affects women differently (through estrogen-related pathways), the authors say, or because there were fewer male tea drinkers in the study, making it more difficult to find a significant association.

The study looked at DNA samples from more than 3,000 adults participating in several different studies across Europe. Along with other diet and lifestyle behaviors, people reported how often they drank coffee and tea. The analysis was adjusted for age, gender and smoking status, and the effects of coffee and tea were adjusted against each other.

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