From the London Telegraph: 7-9-99

Tea cuts the risk of heart disease
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Does drinking tea alter my risk of heart disease? – Hypertension Network Inc

Tea & Health – The Tea Council

A DAILY cup of tea was hailed yesterday as a potential weapon in the fight against heart disease.

Tea drinking is associated with a reduction in heart attack risk, said Prof Catherine Rice-Evans of the International Antioxidant Research Centre at Guy’s Hospital, who chaired a meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine in London to discuss chemicals known as flavonoids.

Found in the millions of cups of tea consumed by Britons each day, flavonoids are protective chemicals which neutralise highly reactive free radicals. Their properties can inhibit atherosclerosis, the furring up of arteries leading to strokes and coronary illness.

Results from a study by Dr. Michel Gaziano of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, revealed that men and women who drank one or more cups of tea a day had a 44 per cent reduction in heart attack risk compared to non-tea drinkers.

The study also showed that there was no association between drinking regular or decaffeinated coffee and heart attack risk, said Prof. Rice-Evans, who admits to drinking “one or two cups of tea each day”.

Only consumption of one or more cup of tea appeared to be associated with a reduced risk, which was “highly significant”, said Prof. Rice-Evans, adding that one flavonoid in tea was related to one in red wine, noted for its benefits if taken in moderation.

She added that although the tea effect was real, there were confounding factors: for instance that regular coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and drink, and that tea drinkers tended to be older, female and sedentary. More studies were needed to see if the effect was due to tea, or if tea consumption indicated healthier behavior.

“Based on our research, black tea may be associated with a lower risk of heart attack,” commented Dr. Gaziano. “However, more work is necessary to confirm the results.”

His study investigated the tea and coffee drinking habits of 680 people, aged 76 and under, and included one set of heart attack victims and the same number of healthy volunteers.

The research complements other evidence suggesting that, as a group, people who drink black tea may have a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. For example, a Dutch study of more than 800 men, aged between 65 and 84, showed that those drinking 3.4 cups of tea a day decreased their risk of death from coronary heart disease by 58 per cent.