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October 17, 2009

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Green tea may help women, study finds

DRINKING green tea continues to show health benefits, particularly among women, hints a new study from Japan.

Drinking five or more cups a day could cut the risk of pneumonia by "47 percent in Japanese women," but not Japanese men, Ikue Watanabe, from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, said in an e-mail to Reuters Health.

Pneumonia risk seems to be reduced even by drinking small amounts of green tea.

Drinking as little as one cup or less of green tea per day was associated with 41 percent less risk of dying from pneumonia among Japanese women, the investigators found.

The findings, they say, "support the possibility" that green tea contains compounds capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of viruses and microorganisms.

Watanabe and colleagues assessed how drinking green tea affected the risk of dying from pneumonia among 19,079 men and 21,493 women receiving National Health Insurance in Japan.

The study population ranged from 40 to 79 years old and had no reported history of cancer, heart attack, stroke at the start of the study.

Through more than 12 years of follow-up in about 85 percent of the study group (6,033 were lost to follow-up), 406 study participants died from pneumonia, the investigators report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

They found benefits from drinking green tea in women, but not in men, after allowing for age, physical function, and smoking status, plus numerous other health and dietary factors potentially associated with the risk for pneumonia.

Watanabe speculates that "green tea may have an effect on pneumonia in women in other countries as well."

However, further study is needed for investigators to determine this.


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