tea A recent study from Uppsala University in Sweden has revealed that tea consumption leads to epigenetic changes in women, but not men.

Researchers went on to explain that tea consumption in women leads to epigenetic changes in genes that are known to interact with cancer and estrogen metabolism. The results of which have been published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

Epigenetic changes are chemical modifications that turn our genes off or on, and it is well known that our environment and lifestyle factors, such as food choices, smoking and exposure to chemicals, can influence this.

The particular study in question investigated if coffee and tea consumption may lead to these changes. Previous studies have suggested that both coffee and tea play an important role in modulating disease risk in humans by supressing tumour progression, decreasing inflammation and influencing estrogen metabolism, mechanisms that may be meditated by epigenetic changes.

Interestingly, the results showed that many of the epigenetic changes were found in genes involved in cancer and estrogen metabolism. Weronica Ek, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, who led the study, explained, “Previous studies have shown that tea consumption reduced estrogen levels which highlights a potential difference between the biological response to tea in men and women. Women also drink higher amounts of tea compared to men, which increases our power to find association in women.”

The study did not find any epigenetic changes in individuals drinking coffee. Results from this study highlight the role of pharmacologically active components in tea being involved in cancer and estrogen metabolism, which can reflect that health effects related to tea consumption might be due to epigenetic changes. However, this study does not show if it is healthy or not to drink tea and further research is needed to understand how epigenetic changes found in this study affects our health. It has previously been demonstrated that tea catechins lead to epigenetic changes in vitro and in cultured cancer cells, arguing that some of the health effects of tea may be mediated by epigenetics.

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