Can tea prevent cancer and improve overall health?

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Drinking tea may improve heart and brain health, immune function, and reduces cancer risk, a study found. BONNINSTUDIO/Stocksy
  • During a recent symposium on the health benefits of tea, researchers from across the globe shared evidence suggesting that tea consumption may improve cardiovascular health, immune function, cognitive health, and reduce the risk of cancer.
  • The researchers noted that better quality evidence is needed to further establish these beneficial effects of tea consumption, including larger cohort studies and randomized clinical trials.
  • The researchers advocated that people incorporate 2-4 cups of unsweetened tea into the daily diet as a source of flavonoids, which are responsible to a large extent for these beneficial effects.

Leading scientists in the field of tea research recently met virtually at the Sixth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health to discuss the current state of knowledge and the gaps in understanding about the benefits of tea. Researchers discussed many topics at the symposium, which included the potential beneficial effects of tea on cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and the prevention of cancer.

The conference was organized by the Tea Council of the USA, the public relations arm of the Tea industry whose primary aim is to encourage greater tea consumption. It accomplishes this by furthering tea science and “establishing tea as a healthy, good for you beverage.”

Here is a breakdown of the main findings, and why it may be too early to draw definitive conclusions.

Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water. The four primary types of tea include white, green, Oolong, and black. All four teas are derived from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but differ in how they are processed after harvesting.

Tea contains a wide array of components that have biological activity, including flavonoids, L-theanine, and caffeine. Many of the beneficial effects of tea are due to the high levels of flavonoids, such as catechins, which have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

The differences in the manufacturing process can influence the chemical composition and the beneficial effects of the different tea types. For instance, green tea is roasted before it can oxidize and hence, contains higher levels of catechins. In contrast, black tea is allowed to oxidize and has lower levels of catechins. Meanwhile, black tea contains larger amounts of other flavonoids called thearubigins and theaflavins, which also possess antioxidant properties.

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How the US Army’s holistic health and fitness program will prevent injuries

It appears the era of “a couple of Motrin should do the trick” could be nearing its end in the Army. 

“My sergeants major right now, they hurt. Their bodies hurt,” Col. Phillip Kiniery, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, told Task & Purpose last week. “I need to make sure that the next group of leaders and senior leaders in the Army don’t feel like I feel physically. That they’re healthy … I wish we thought this way when we were going up.” 

The 4,500-soldier brigade is part of an effort to address injuries early and give soldiers more access to physical and occupational therapy through the Army’s holistic health and fitness program, which was announced in 2017 and officially put into Army policy last year. It focuses on total wellness, not just physical fitness, and urges mental and spiritual wellbeing, getting enough rest, eating well, and, more simply, just taking care of yourself. 

Referred to internally as H2F, the holistic health and fitness program encourages soldiers to take better care of their minds and bodies, not simply push through the pain after an injury, and emphasizes learning how to physically train properly. And at least one brigade commander is hoping that with that kind of change, the next generation of Army leaders won’t have the same kinds of aches and pains as, you know, all of you do. But to do that will require a certain level of humility from leaders. 

Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, utilize the physical training strength and conditioning coaches at the Falcon Holistic Health and Fitness Center (H2F) on October, 18, 2021 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Mallett)

“That’s what I’m fighting every day: ‘We’re the 2nd Brigade, 82nd, we’re going to jump into combat anywhere in the world, we’re the 82nd Airborne Division,’” Kiniery said. “Like hey sergeant, I got it. You can kill anything, you can jump out of every aircraft, but just stop and listen to this strength coach because you’re doing it wrong.” 

While the program could bring positive changes to soldiers everywhere, it will likely be years before it’s implemented Army-wide. There are currently 28 Army brigades — located at Fort Bragg, Fort Drum, Fort Polk, Fort Bliss, and Joint Base Lewis McChord — who have started implementing the holistic health and fitness program.

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Most adults shouldn’t take daily aspirin to prevent heart attack, panel says

Taking a daily low-dose aspirin has long been recommended for heart health, but an influential organization changed its guidance on Tuesday. 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts, released an updated draft recommendation that says most adults not take aspirin to prevent first heart attacks or strokes. 

The previous guidance recommended daily low-dose aspirin for people over 50 who were at higher risk for heart attacks or strokes in the next decade and who weren’t at higher risk for bleeding. 

The updated guidance recommends that adults in their 40s and 50s only take aspirin as a preventive measure if their doctors determine they are at higher risk for heart disease and that aspirin may lower the risk without significant risk of bleeding. (The previous guidance didn’t address anyone younger than 50.) People ages 60 or older are now advised not to start taking aspirin to prevent first heart attacks or strokes.

The draft recommendations don’t apply to people who have already had heart attacks or strokes; the task force still recommends that they take aspirin preventively.

“For anyone who is on aspirin because they’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, it’s a very important medication,” said Dr. Erin Michos, an associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, who isn’t part of the task force. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and according to the most recent data available, 29 million adults in the U.S. take aspirin daily to prevent heart disease even though they don’t have histories of it. 

Aspirin acts as an anticoagulant, meaning it helps to prevent blood clots from forming. A clot that cuts off blood flow to the heart leads to a heart attack; one that cuts off blood flow to the brain causes a stroke. The idea behind taking a daily low-dose aspirin was to lower the risk of such clots, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

But the same mechanism that lets aspirin prevent blood clots from forming can also increase a person’s risk of bleeding, because it prevents blood from clotting at the site of a wound. 

Newer studies that informed the latest task force recommendations found that for most healthy people, the risk of bleeding caused by aspirin outweighs the benefits of preventing blood clots. For the same reason, the

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