By now most of us have heard that green tea has been shown to be an effective cancer preventer. There are numerous studies that have shown green tea's anti-oxidants to have significant power in protecting our health and preventing disease.
Much of the research on green tea has been performed on laboratory mice, mostly because human trials take years to perform, and because human trials are rife with variables that can make conclusions difficult to determine.
However, one study performed in China on stomach cancer, did look at humans and attempted to ascertain whether or not green tea could mitigate their cancer risk, particularly in those who had a higher than average risk of stomach cancer, due to family history.
This study examined 206 people who had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and 415 healthy participants. The subjects were thoroughly interviewed regarding their dietary habits. The participants were also screened for their relative susceptibility to stomach cancer, based on family history and other factors that raise the risk of developing stomach cancer.
This study showed a significant reduced risk of stomach cancer in those who were regular green tea drinkers. The reduced risk was even significant in those participants who would normally have had a higher than average risk of developing the disease.
Therefore, the study concluded that green tea may have the ability to mitigate other cancer risk factors. In particular, green tea was shown to significantly mitigate the risk for heavy alcohol drinkers.
Stomach cancer is a significant risk in the US. Each year, over 22,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and over 11,000 will die from it. Two thirds of those who get stomach cancer each year are over the age of 65.
Today, stomach cancer is far less common in the US than it once was. Doctors believe this reduction is caused primarily by two things. The first is the more regular use of anti-biotics to treat infections in children. One particular bacteria, known as H pylori, is a significant contributor to stomach cancer, and anti-biotics can often kill this bacteria in our bodies while we're still children, before it can cause problems later on.
The second reason doctors believe we've seen a decrease in stomach cancer is refrigeration. In years past, the only way to keep meat safe for long periods of time was through salt curing or smoking. It's believed that the nitrates in meats preserved in this manner contribute to the development of stomach cancer. Therefore, the reduction in the amount of salt cured and smoked meats in our diet may reduce our risk of stomach cancer.
What are the risk factors for stomach cancer?
So, just what does make us have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer? There are several risk factors, and many of them can be controlled. The leading risk factors include:
o Poor Diet - As mentioned earlier, high levels of salted and smoked meat can contribute to stomach cancer. Conversely, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower your risk of stomach cancer.
o Previous stomach surgery - those who have had surgery for ulcers and other stomach problems are at a higher risk of stomach cancer.
o Pernicious anemia sufferers
o Menetrier Disease sufferers
o Those with Type A blood
o Stomach polyps
o Family History
o Epstein-Barr Virus
o Bacterial infections
Mitigating Your Risk
We can't control our family history or our blood type, but many of the risk factors for stomach cancer are things that we have some control over. As an overall way to help prevent cancer, it's important to eat a healthy diet. Lots of fruits and vegetables are critical in this part of your cancer prevention regime, because in addition to their other healthy qualities, they are loaded with anti-oxidants, just like green tea.
Anti-oxidants are known cancer preventers because they fight the free radicals created in our bodies as we convert food to energy. These free radicals damage cells and DNA, leading to disease. But, a diet rich in anti-oxidants can neutralize these free radicals, preventing their damage.
So, including fruits and vegetables in your diet can help you in several ways. First of all, you'll be getting lots of vitamins and your daily dose of anti-oxidants. However, fruits and vegetables can also help you keep your weight in check, which is also a cancer preventer. Obesity is a risk factor for stomach, and many other forms of cancer.
You can also mitigate your stomach cancer risk by not smoking. Most people know that smoking causes lung cancer, but many people don't realize that smoking contributes to the development of many forms of cancer, including stomach cancer. It's also a wise idea to limit your alcohol intake. Some studies have shown an increased risk of stomach cancer among those who drank alcohol in large quantities over a period of years.
Finally, it's important to keep close tabs on your health in general. Visit your doctor regularly for checkups and have routine tests done when recommended.
And, don't forget to drink some green tea each and every day to give yourself and extra boost of cancer prevention!