New research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows that the biochemicals in green tea change a women’s oestrogen metabolism, revealing at least one of its mechanisms for reducing the risk of breast cancer.

The study comes from the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, and was led by Dr. Barbara Fuhrman. The researchers tested the levels of urinary Oestrogens and metabolites among 181 healthy Japanese American women from California and Hawaii. Of the group, 72 of the women were postmenopausal. The remainder of the group was premenopausal.

The data was compiled using a combination of urinary testing along with personal interviews with each women. The woman’s intake of not only green tea, but black tea, coffee (decaffeinated or not) and soda (decaffeinated or not) was also queried and recorded and measured, and the results were adjusted with respect to caffeine consumption. Considerations such as soy consumption, body mass index, age and others were also made and adjusted.

The research found that those postmenopausal women who drank green tea daily had 20% less urinary estrone and 40% less urinary oestradiol levels, when compared to those levels of women who drank green tea less than one time per week. These oestrogen levels followed their categorisation with regard to the oestrogen metabolism pathway involved. This allowed the researchers to determine that these urinary oestrogen differences were related to their oestrogen metabolism and their future risk of breast cancer.

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