You've heard it for a while now: Drinking black tea regularly protects against many types of cancer. But WHY? Scientists think they have figured it out. The so-called "secret weapon" of black tea--which is ordinary tea, the kind of tea bags you most likely have in your kitchen cupboard--may be a compound called theaflavin-3'-monogallate (TF-2), which is one of a family of potent anti-cancer compounds called polyphenols. TF-2 "shows very interesting properties'' against colon cancer cells, researcher Dr. Kuang Yu Chen of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey told Reuters. For some reason when TF-2 encounters normal cells, nothing happens. The normal cells continue to flourish. But it causes cancer cells to "commit suicide" in droves, according to Chen. The cell suicide process is called apoptosis--programmed cell death.
And that's not all. TF-2 also appears to suppress the activity of the Cox 2 gene, which seems to be an integral part of the sequence of events that turns normal cells into malignant cells. But one big question remains: How much black tea do you need to drink for optimum protection? Maybe you should just start drinking lots of tea. Earlier this summer, Boston University School of Medicine researchers determined there is a strong link between drinking black tea and healthy arteries in patients who already have heart disease. Black tea contains powerful antioxidants that help prevent the build-up of cholesterol on the walls of your arteries. --Cathryn Conroy