The epidemiology of tea consumption and colorectal cancer incidence.
This manuscript provides a brief synopsis of 30 studies aimed at examining tea consumption as a factor in the incidence of colon and rectal cancers. The 30 papers examine populations in 12 countries and provide data on consumption of both black and green tea. These studies do not provide consistent evidence to support the theory from animal studies and basic research that tea is a potent chemopreventive agent. Details of the studies are presented, and the potential impact of measurement error, publication bias, the form of tea consumed, the appropriateness of the outcomes studied and the adjustment of confounders related to both tea consumption and risk of colorectal cancer or polyps in various countries are explored. In general, the data are not more consistent for green than for black tea. Particularly with green tea, the doses consumed do get into a perceived protective range in a significant subset of the population. A negative association is stronger in observational epidemiologic studies of rectal cancer than in colon cancer. There is no consistent adjustment for important potential confounders of any tea relationship, such as coffee and alcohol consumption and physical activity levels. Finally, the assessment of tea in most of these studies was based on a single question and therefore may have significant measurement error compared with more recent studies specifically aimed at assessing tea consumption.
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