Study Brews Up Good News

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003

    Researchers may have found another health benefit of tea?lowering cholesterol. In a study of 240 men and women, there was a 16% drop in cholesterol among participants who took a 375-mg pill containing green and black tea extracts enriched with the antioxidant theaflavin. Over a 12- week period, the participants, all of whom had mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia and were on a low-fat diet, were randomly assigned to receive either the pill or a placebo. Those taking the tea extract pill were given a high-antioxidant dosage, equal to 7 cups of black tea and 35 cups of green tea, according to a report published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Lead author David Maron, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, noted that, although this 16% reduction is not as high as typically found with cholesterol-lowering drugs, it is an impressive result when compared with other nonpharmaceutical drugs. The study, however, does not reveal which particular agent or combination of agents caused the participants? cholesterol level to drop. The researchers used a pill containing a ?cocktail? of antioxidants, according to Joe Vinson, PhD, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton.

    Before individuals start taking tea extract pills, Dr. Maron pointed out, further evidence is needed to determine the long-term safety, the effective dosage range, and how tea extract interacts with other cholesterollowering drugs.

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