Drinking at least two cups of tea daily can protect you from developing skin cancer, says a new study, but scientists call for more research to strengthen the findings.
Tea's disease-fighting properties appear to protect the body against Squamous cell carcinomas and Basal cell carcinomas - most common forms of skin cancers usually caused by too much exposure to the sun's rays - that grow slowly over a period of months or even years, the researchers say.
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.
In the latest study, carried out at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire in the US, the scientists analysed over 1,400 patients aged between 25 and 74 years with one of the two types of tumour, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
They compared their diet, drinking habits and lifestyle with a similar group who did not have cancer.
They found that regular tea drinkers were 65 per cent less likely to have squamous cell carcinoma and almost 80 per cent less at risk of a basal cell carcinoma. The biggest benefits were seen among long-term drinkers, especially those who downed several cups a day for more than 40 years.
Judy Rees, who led the research, said: "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."
These are antioxidants that block the damaging effects in the body of molecules known as free radicals.
But she stressed more research was needed to confirm it is the tea and not some other lifestyle factor which is protecting against the illness.