Tea drinking may increase risk of prostate cancer

Men who drink large amounts of tea have been found to have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers at Glasgow University followed the health of more than 6,000 men over a 37-year period, discovering the risk levels for heavy tea drinkers are 50 per cent higher than men who drink little or none of the nation’s favourite hot beverage.

[Related: Green tea for weight loss?]

The study used questionnaires to establish the general health and habits of 6,016 male volunteers in Scotland in 1970. A quarter of these were considered heavy tea drinkers. During a follow up questionnaire in 2007, more of the heavy tea drinkers had developed prostate cancer, than those who drank a moderate amount or none at all.

Though the research sounds alarming, tea fans needn’t rush to ditch their teapots.

"Most previous research has shown either no relationship with prostate cancer for black tea or some preventive effect of green tea,” reassured study leader Dr Kashif Shafique of Glasgow University's Institute of Health and Wellbeing. "We don't know whether tea itself is a risk factor or if tea drinkers are generally healthier and live to an older age when prostate cancer is more common anyway."

"This study did not take into consideration family history or any other dietary elements other than tea, coffee and alcohol intake,” said Dr Kate Holmes, head of research at the Prostate Cancer Charity. "We would therefore not wish any man to be concerned that drinking a moderate amount of tea as part of a healthy diet will put them at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer."

But it’s worth remembering that tea contains caffeine, which has been linked to other medical conditions, so if you’re a seven-a-day man it may be worth cutting down a little for your general health.

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