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Although we often hear about the virtues of green and black teas, there’s much you also should know about white tea and prostate cancer. White tea is the least processed of the tea varieties. In fact, you may not know that black, white, and green tea all come from the same leaf variety. The difference is in the level of processing; that is, white being the least processed, black being the most.
With white tea, the tea leaves are picked before they even open up, and at that point they are covered with fuzzy white hairs, which gives the tea its name. The leaves are simply steamed and dried. The result is a tea that is barely processed, which allows it to hold onto high concentrations of its catechins.
Many claims have been made about the health benefits of white tea, but some of them lack scientific evidence to support them. One reason for the scarcity of information is that more studies have been conducted using the more readily available green and black teas. White tea is also more costly than its cousins.
Advocates of white tea say it can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, help with weight loss, fight viruses and bacteria, support healthy gums, build strong bones, and fight cancer. There are some studies to support several of these claims, including those for cancer, and here are a few of them.
At the 219th national meeting of the American Chemical Society about a decade ago, researchers from Oregon State University conducted an analysis and reported that white tea had more catechins than other teas. (Santana-Rios 2001) Armed with that information, they decided to test the cancer-fighting abilities of white tea using a test that can identify whether a substance can cause or prevent mutations in DNA (Salmonella test), which is an early step in cancer. They discovered that white tea inhibited mutations more effectively than did green tea. The scientists attributed this superior result to the higher proportion of catechins in white tea than in green.
In another study, researchers at Ohio University Southern looked at the impact of white tea, green tea, and caffeine in a colon cancer model and found that white tea helped inhibit proliferation of early lesions in the colon. (Carter 2007).
Given the catechin and EGCG content in white tea (more than green tea!), it should become part of your nutrition program for prostate health. I make a pitcher of white and a pitcher of green every night, blend them together in my morning smoothie, and drink it all day long.
Carter O et al. Comparison of white tea, green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, and caffeine as inhibitors of PhIP-induced colonic aberrant crypts. Nutrition and Cancer 2007; 58(1): 60-65
Santana-Rios G et al. Potent antimutagenic activity of white tea in comparison with green tea in the Salmonella assay. Mutation Research 2001 Aug 22; 495(1-2): 61-74