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Two cuppas can half cancer risk

There are two types of skin cancer on which nothing works better than two cups of tea everyday, says a study.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 21, 2007 15:36 IST

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but when it comes to two types of skin cancer, it seems that nothing works better than two cups of tea, a new study has found.

The study, by boffins at the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, US, was led by Dr Judy Rees.

As a part of the research, scientists analysed over 1,400 patients aged between 25 and 74 with one of the two types of tumour - squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas.

Caused by too much exposure to the sun's rays, these types of tumours are not as dangerous as malignant melanomas, which have a high mortality rate.

They grow slowly over a period of months or even years.

Boffins compared the diet, drinking habits and lifestyle of people with these types of tumours with a similar group of volunteers who did not.

The study found that regular tea drinkers were 65 per cent less likely to have squamous cell carcinoma and almost 80 per less at risk of a basal cell carcinoma.

Dr Judy Rees said that the researchers had found that antioxidants called polyphenols, that block the damaging effects in the body of molecules known as free radicals, along with protecting against heart disease, ovarian cancer and stress, also protected against this type of skin cancer.

"The constituents of tea have been investigated for their activity against a variety of diseases and cancers. But the most potent appear to be polyphenols," the Daily Mail quoted her, as saying.

However, the researchers stressed that what further research was needed to determine that it was indeed tea, and not some other kind of lifestyle factor, that protects against the illness.

While squamous cell carcinomas normally appear on the face and turn into an ulcer-like growth that doesn't heal, basal cell carcinomas normally show up as a painless lump that gradually expands in size. Although they do not normally spread through the body, they still need be removed through surgery.

The findings are published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.