Chinese scientists analyzed data from a continuing health study conducted in 15 provinces since 1998. The data included a wide range of health and behavioral information on 100,109 adults, including self-reports of tea consumption.
Over an average follow-up of seven years, there were 3,683 heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular events; 1,477 deaths from cardiovascular disease; and 5,479 deaths from other causes.
Compared with people who drank fewer than three cups of tea a week, those who drank more had a 20 percent reduced risk for a cardiovascular incident, a 22 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular death and a 15 percent reduced risk for all-cause premature death.
The study, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, controlled for many health and behavioral characteristics, including education, smoking, alcohol consumption, blood pressure and body mass index.
This is an observational study that does not prove cause and effect, and the results may not be generalizable to populations outside of China. But tea, especially green tea, is a source of flavonoids that could reduce oxidative stress, relieve inflammation, increase the efficiency of heart muscle cells and improve the function of the blood vessels, the researchers say.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, the authors write, and “tea consumption could reduce the risk for both cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality as well as all-cause mortality.”