There have been so many amazing health claims about tea by this point that you can’t help but be sceptical. Between the cancer curing, the disease fighting and all the other general health promoting, you’d think we’d all been happily brewing the elixir of life for centuries. If we ever stop drinking tea, we’ll realise that humans are only supposed to have a five-year lifespan and that’s why children’s toys never stop being fun.
The latest claim to wander through my browser is the effects of green tea on bone mineral density (BMD), specifically it’s applications in the treatment of osteoporosis. Happily, this is one claim that seems to be extremely well supported.
A five-year Australian study of 1,500 women, aged between 75 and 80, looked at the effects of tea drinking and calcium supplements on osteoporosis and found that the tea drinkers had a 2.8% greater BMD at the end of the study. Another study, which looked at 632 Japanese women of 60 years or over, found a significant link between green tea drinking and a higher BMD.
A recent review of laboratory work carried out on rats found that green tea helped increase bone mineral density both by promoting bone formation and inhibiting the bodies re-absorption of bone tissues. This study reinforces the work already done with people and helps scientists to start understanding the reason that green tea seems to work so well. Studies being done of the health effects of tea are increasing year on year, and it’s medical applications are starting to be taken very seriously.
As always, you need to treat tea as a complementary medicine and not an alternative to conventional treatment, but it certainly won’t do you any harm. In fact, the Japanese government recommends that its people drink ten cups of green tea a day, and the popularity of tea-based bottled drinks has rocketed as a result.
So there is a very good reason, as if more were needed, for your daily cup of tea. It’s not quite the elixir of life but who knows what magical properties will be discovered next? Best to play it safe and put the kettle on.
Devine, A., Hodgeson, J.M., Dick, I.M. and Prince, R.L. – Tea drinking is associated with benefits on bone density in older women. Am J Clin Nutr 86(4) 1243-1247
Muraki, S., Yamamoto, S., Ishibashi, H., Oka, H., Yoshimura, N., Kawaguchi, H., Nakamura, K. – Diet and lifestyle associated with increased bone mineral density: cross-sectional study of Japanese elderly women at an osteoporosis outpatient clinic. J Orthop Sci 12(4) 317-320
Shen C-L, et al. Green tea and bone health: Evidence from laboratory studies. Pharmacol Res (2011) doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.03.012
Hara Y. Tea catechins and their applications as supplements and pharmaceutics Pharmacol Res (2011) doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2011.03.018
More articles by “our woman in Scotland” Jessica Hodges are posted on this blog.
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