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Epigentic changes are chemical modifications that help turn our genes on or off. A new study from Uppsala University indicates that tea consumption in women causes epigenetic chances in genes that have are known to relate to cancer and estrogen metabolism.

Our environment and lifestyle (including food choices, smoking, alcohol, and chemical exposure) can cause epigenetic changes. Recently, investigators from Uppsala University collaborated with other researchers in Europe, and looked at whether coffee or tea consumption can cause epigenetic changes. They conducted this study in the context of knowledge that coffee and tea may modulate disease risk by suppressing cancer progression, decreasing inflammation, and changing estrogen metabolism.

What did they discover? Women who consumed tea had epigenetic changes, including among genes that are associated with cancer and with estrogen metabolism. Coffee did not lead to such epigenetic changes. To me, this study illustrates the potential of active components of tea to effect epigenetic changes. Some of the known health effects of tea may indeed be mediated by epigenetic phenomena. The authors published their results in the journal Human Molecular Genetics. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.