Treating Prostate Cancer with Green Tea

Treating Prostate Cancer with Green Tea
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Green tea is put to the test against precancerous lesions, prostate cancer and metastatic cancer and compared to the effects of black tea.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Green tea has been called “nature’s defense” against cancer. Population studies linking green tea consumption with lower cancer risk have led some to advocate for the incorporation of green tea into the diet. After all, what’s the downside? However, population studies can’t prove cause and effect. It’s “not possible to determine…whether green tea actually prevents cancer in people,” until you put it to the test.

Prostate cancer is preceded by a precancerous condition known as intraepithelial neoplasia. Within one year, about 30% of such lesions turn into cancer. “Because…no treatment is given to…patients until [cancer] is diagnosed,” what a perfect opportunity to give green tea a try.

So, 60 men with precancerous prostate intraepithelial neoplasia were randomized into either a green tea group or a placebo group. It’s hard to make a convincing placebo tea; so, they used green tea pills—roughly equivalent to about six cups of green tea a day—compared to sugar pills.

Six months into the study, they took biopsies from everyone, and in the placebo group, 6 out of 30 developed cancer by the halfway point, and then 3 of the remaining 24 by the end of the year. So, 9 out of 30 in the placebo group developed cancer, or 30%—which is what normally happens when you don’t do anything; about 30% go on to develop cancer within the first year.

But, in the green tea group, none developed cancer within the first six months, and only one by the end of the year. So, only one out of the 30; nearly ten times less than the placebo group—the first demonstration that green tea compounds could be “very effective for treating premalignant lesions before [prostate cancer] develops.” And, even a year later, after they stopped the green tea, nearly 90% of the original green tea group remained cancer-free, while more than half of the placebo group developed cancer. This suggests that the benefits of the green tea may be “long-lasting”—overall nearly 80% reduction in prostate cancer. That is pretty impressive.

What if you already have prostate cancer? A proprietary green tea extract supplement was given to 26 men with confirmed prostate cancer for an average of about a month before they had their prostates removed, and there was a significant reduction in a number of cancer biomarkers such as PSA levels, suggesting a shrinkage of the tumor. But, there was no control group and the study was funded by the supplement company itself. But, when an independent group of researchers tried to replicate the results in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, they failed to find any statistically significant improvement.  So, maybe green tea is only effective in the precancerous state, but not powerful enough to impact overt prostate cancer?

Certainly didn’t seem to help for advanced metastatic cancer in the two studies that tried it. And recently, doubt has been cast on the precancerous results. When researchers tried to replicate it, the green tea extract group only seemed to cut prostate cancer development about in half, which, because of the small number of people in the study, may very well have happened just by chance. So, where does that leave us?

Unfortunately, green tea extract pills are not without risk—there’s been about a dozen case reports of liver damage associated with their use. And so, until there’s more solid evidence of benefit I’d stick with just drinking the tea.

Okay, green or black?  A recent study randomized about a hundred men with prostate cancer to consume 6 cups a day of green or black tea found a significant drop in PSA levels and NF-kappa beta in the green tea group, but not the black tea or control groups.  NF-kappa beta is thought to be a prognostic marker for prostate cancer progression; and so, the green tea appeared to work better than the black.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Unsplash via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Green tea has been called “nature’s defense” against cancer. Population studies linking green tea consumption with lower cancer risk have led some to advocate for the incorporation of green tea into the diet. After all, what’s the downside? However, population studies can’t prove cause and effect. It’s “not possible to determine…whether green tea actually prevents cancer in people,” until you put it to the test.

Prostate cancer is preceded by a precancerous condition known as intraepithelial neoplasia. Within one year, about 30% of such lesions turn into cancer. “Because…no treatment is given to…patients until [cancer] is diagnosed,” what a perfect opportunity to give green tea a try.

So, 60 men with precancerous prostate intraepithelial neoplasia were randomized into either a green tea group or a placebo group. It’s hard to make a convincing placebo tea; so, they used green tea pills—roughly equivalent to about six cups of green tea a day—compared to sugar pills.

Six months into the study, they took biopsies from everyone, and in the placebo group, 6 out of 30 developed cancer by the halfway point, and then 3 of the remaining 24 by the end of the year. So, 9 out of 30 in the placebo group developed cancer, or 30%—which is what normally happens when you don’t do anything; about 30% go on to develop cancer within the first year.

But, in the green tea group, none developed cancer within the first six months, and only one by the end of the year. So, only one out of the 30; nearly ten times less than the placebo group—the first demonstration that green tea compounds could be “very effective for treating premalignant lesions before [prostate cancer] develops.” And, even a year later, after they stopped the green tea, nearly 90% of the original green tea group remained cancer-free, while more than half of the placebo group developed cancer. This suggests that the benefits of the green tea may be “long-lasting”—overall nearly 80% reduction in prostate cancer. That is pretty impressive.

What if you already have prostate cancer? A proprietary green tea extract supplement was given to 26 men with confirmed prostate cancer for an average of about a month before they had their prostates removed, and there was a significant reduction in a number of cancer biomarkers such as PSA levels, suggesting a shrinkage of the tumor. But, there was no control group and the study was funded by the supplement company itself. But, when an independent group of researchers tried to replicate the results in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, they failed to find any statistically significant improvement.  So, maybe green tea is only effective in the precancerous state, but not powerful enough to impact overt prostate cancer?

Certainly didn’t seem to help for advanced metastatic cancer in the two studies that tried it. And recently, doubt has been cast on the precancerous results. When researchers tried to replicate it, the green tea extract group only seemed to cut prostate cancer development about in half, which, because of the small number of people in the study, may very well have happened just by chance. So, where does that leave us?

Unfortunately, green tea extract pills are not without risk—there’s been about a dozen case reports of liver damage associated with their use. And so, until there’s more solid evidence of benefit I’d stick with just drinking the tea.

Okay, green or black?  A recent study randomized about a hundred men with prostate cancer to consume 6 cups a day of green or black tea found a significant drop in PSA levels and NF-kappa beta in the green tea group, but not the black tea or control groups.  NF-kappa beta is thought to be a prognostic marker for prostate cancer progression; and so, the green tea appeared to work better than the black.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Unsplash via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Doctor's Note

What if you packed your diet with all sorts of plant foods? See Cancer Reversal through Diet?

The problem is Changing a Man’s Diet after a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis.

What about preventing prostate cancer in the first place? That was the subject of my last video, Preventing Prostate Cancer with Green Tea.

Similar studies were done with pomegranates. Check out the results in Pomegranate vs. Placebo for Prostate Cancer

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

73 responses to “Treating Prostate Cancer with Green Tea

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  1. Keep in mind that green tea and black tea are broad categories based on how much oxidation the leaves have undergone–and each category contains varieties that may vary widely in their anti-cancer effects. In drinking Japanese matcha (my brew of choice), I’m consuming the leaves themselves ground into a powder, whereas most other teas (black & green) are infusions of soluble materials extracted from the leaves, but don’t contain other insoluble substances left behind in the leaves. Other teas thought to have anticancer (and other healthful) effects include pu-erh tea (a fermented tea grown in China’s Yunnan province) and kuding tea. The latter, brewed from leaves of a species of holly (Ilex kudingcha), is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat hypertension, high blood sugars & lipids, & many other conditions.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24579782
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19348878
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24520272
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3685706/




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      1. Holly is an invasive weed in the Northwest. Maybe we can grow healthy ones instead, and make tea. Graham Nash was always my favorite of the Hollies.
        John S




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        1. Poor “weeds”, they are just self sufficient plants that spread happily but get no respect. They are often not just edible, but more nutritious than the cultivars we buy that themselves were once weeds too, until we bred them to suit our preferences. Seems the more care we have to lavish on our botanical friends, the more worthy they become? Personally, a yard full of sunny yellow dandelions with milkweed blooming in the borders is more attractive to me than any useless boring, resource hogging lawn, and certainly is tastier and more nutritious. All about perspective I guess, I like free food…so I eat the weeds :)




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  2. From Consumerlab:

    “Green tea supplements may lower the risk of certain types of cancer, shrink uterine fibroids, and aid in weight control, and drinking green tea has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, as well as a lower risk of some cancers. The apparent active compounds in green tea are EGCG and other catechins. However, amounts of these compounds in green tea supplements, brewable teas, matcha, and bottled drinks can vary enormously. Our tests revealed that green tea supplements provided 22 mg to over 300 mg of EGCG in a suggested daily serving, depending on the brand. Bottled green teas contained just 4 mg to 47 mg of EGCG per cup. Our tests of brewable green tea (from tea bags, loose tea, or a K-Cup) found levels ranging from 25 to 86 mg of EGCG per serving, while matcha products provided 17 mg to 109 mg of EGCG per serving. Three products failed to contain their listed amounts of EGCG or catechins and one product provided fewer servings than promised.

    ConsumerLab.com found the cost to obtain 200 mg of EGCG from green tea products ranged from as little as $0.10 to more than $70. Just as striking was that caffeine levels ranged from virtually none in some products to more than 130 mg in a single capsule of a supplement which didn’t even mention caffeine on its label. That’s 40 mg more caffeine that in a regular cup of coffee!”

    They found Lipton green tea was the best bang for the buck at .10 a bag.




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        1. Bigelow Decafe was 57.3 mg EGCG per bag (157.6 mg total catechins), and regular Lipton was, as you said 71.1 mg EGCG (18.1 mg total catechins). But for those who don’t want caffeine, Bigelw is not bad.




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          1. I stand corrected.

            I suppose the reason Bigelow tastes better is because they individually wrap each tea bag in foil to keep air out. It’s also possible that the higher EGCG in Lipton makes it more bitter, just like raw cacao is more bitter than Dutched cocoa but raw cacao has more antioxidants.




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    1. Hi Jeff I am new and have a question. I am trying to determine if I brew hot tea say a bag of lipton am I loosing the benefits Dr Gerber is profiling? When you give the figures that your examples contain do you mean brewed?




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  3. How about hibiscus? How does it compare to green? In a January 6, 2012 video, Dr. Greger rated hibiscus more beneficial than green for its antioxidant power. How should we weigh the antioxidant power of hibiscus vs the cancer fighting power of green tea in prostate cancer?




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    1. Peter: Nothing is perfect; a problem with hibiscus tea is it’s the most acidic of all readily available teas, which could be harmful to teeth. (I think Dr. Greger has a video on this issue.)




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      1. Thanks George. I try to rinse with water every time I drink hibiscus. But I would like to know how hibiscus compares to green when it comes to prostate cancer. Are we covered to some extent, even if not as potent as green? I hope Dr Greger provides info on this, if there’s a study.




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          1. Thanks for this study link. I only found studies that showed indication of Hibiscus tea towards lowering blood pressure and lowering blood sugar. But this is great it shows other benefits. Thanks for sharing.




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            1. Upon reading this research paper, it appears that a Hibiscus Leaf Extract (HLE) was used in the study and not Hibiscus tea (made from Hibiscus petals). Maybe some experts on this site could verify this from the paper and let us know if the tea would be helpful or not. Thanks.




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          2. Upon reading this research paper, it appears that a Hibiscus Leaf Extract (HLE) was used in the study and not Hibiscus tea (made from Hibiscus petals). Maybe some experts on this site could verify this from the paper and let us know if the tea would be helpful or not.




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      1. I would assume that it is based on your taste may be try half and half and see if you like the taste and adjust it accordingly.




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  4. Have you heard of Sunrider? Based on the Philosophy of Regeneration and over 5000 years of Chinese herbal history, Dr. Chen has made Calli Tea
    which is a blend of Chinese herbal FOOD on the green tea leaves that cleanses the body of toxins and feeds your elimination system. AMAZING! Sunrider has been around for 30 years!
    Check it out!
    Thank you Dr. Greger for your great nutrition facts!




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    1. It’s wise to cast a critical eye at any product that claims to cleanse the body or rid you of toxins unless they are able to tell you which substances they’re removing. If they can’t name what they’re getting rid of, they have no way to measure it’s removal and no way of telling if their product is effective at cleansing it or not.

      Aka, if they can’t say what substance they’re cleansing you of, they’re probably full of shit.




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  5. I read that the white tea (which is the least processed of all – green&black) when combined with lemon (citric acid) contains higher levels of EGCG than the green tea. Would you please comment on this? Thanks.




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    1. hi Vladimir Roth, Dr Greger made this video on the question of white vs green tea, and came t o similar conclusion about adding the lemon http://nutritionfacts.org/video/antimutagenic-activity-of-green-versus-white-tea/

      As an aside, I enjoy matcha from time to time, but was reading this morning about how the advantage of drinking tea infusions is that the lead stays in the leaf. Not sure how the different brands compare in matcha re contamination, but suggestions are welcome. ty




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    2. What I wanted to see yesterday was white versus green on PSA levels or its affect on apoptosis of the prostate cancer cells in a petri dish. In researching it (which i found mainly white tea and mice studies, not human) I found the part about lemon, specifically, as compared to other citrus juices and it did the best. Now, when I drink white tea I let it steep in cold water for two hours or more as I have read that brewing destroy anti-oxidants to some degree. Just another twist in this “which tea, how prepared and combined with what” saga!




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    3. Scientists theorize it’s the Limonene in lemons that has cancer-fighting properties, all citrus contain the compound but lemons have the highest amounts.




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  6. I almost always brew them together. The green tea has so little flavor and I don’t like it but the hibiscus makes it a good tasting and healthier tea for me. I don’t want to add sugar, it defeats the purpose.
    JOhn S




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  7. Is EGCG heat sensitive? This is important because the study that showed a beneficial effect of green tea on controlling prostate cancer used green tea capsules.




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  8. So six cups of green tea per day can eliminate those precancerous lesions, but what should I do about the resulting sleep disorder from drinking six cups of tea per day? Seriously, I was delighted when I finally broke my caffeine addiction after drinking coffee or tea for forty years and can’t imagine going back to drinking a huge amount of green tea — especially since I have never been tested for precancerous lesions in my prostate and I don’t think I would want to be screened for such a thing either because I suspect it would involve a painful biopsy or maybe sticking a camera up my penis.




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    1. Which begs the question: Does the process of decaffeination destroy the apparent benefits of the green tea? I would be bouncing off the walls if I drank that much regular green tea. I would love to see a study on that.




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        1. Hi Foroogh, the article you suggested says volatile compounds were reduced by the decaffination process. Are the volatile compounds the beneficial ones? I am new and just trying to navigate through the great information supplied by NF and the contributors here. Is your take away to avoid decaffeinated green tea?




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  9. How large is a “cup” of tea in all of these studies? Of course (in “old money”) a “cup” is 8oz. But that a “cup” of coffee is 6oz (that’s why your “pot” of ten cups only fills your 18 oz mug 3 times).

    What about those little bitty cups green tea is drunk from when you get hot tea at an Asian restaurant? Those couldn’t be more than 4 or 5 oz.

    Has “cup” been standardized in the scientific community or is this going to change from one study to the next? Feel free to answer in your native liquid volume measure. I can convert.




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    1. The ounces don’t really matter, considering you can steep the same amount of tea leaves in 6 or 12 oz of water and end up with the same amount of tea compounds at different concentrations. I’m sure he means 8oz with the content of 1 bag (usually 1.5g tea leaves).




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  10. Before I started coming here, I hated tea, it always reminded me of being sick because that’s the only time I got it as a kid. I never like the way it left that “squeaky” feeling in my mouth either, maybe I’m just weird but bananas have a similar effect sometimes. Green tea doesn’t seem to affect me like the black, so glad to hear it’s the good stuff, and jasmine is now a fave!




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    1. I particularly like some of the multi-herbal teas sold under store brands these days. There are the red/hibiscus ones and purple ones and orange ones. Mmm, all plants all good. Also there’s a Green tea with White that I like, but haven’t seen it in a while.

      I should drink more tea and less coffee, but then I likes to grinds some beans. There are so many good teas out there. My best lesson in tea consumption came from here, when I learned to cold-steep them. Simplifies the making and softens the product, reducing if not eliminating any “need” for sugar to blunt bitterness.

      When I have a few teabags in my pocket–water from anywhere becomes more interesting and nutritious and palatable.




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      1. Yeah, I love me all kinds of herbal teas! In fact I like to go out and forage/gather a different blend every day and just throw it all into a big sun tea jug for the next day. I’ve been collecting a variety of plants that make awesome herbal teas, my latest is called moujean tea, really interesting. I always throw a couple of bags of green tea into the mix, but maybe I’ll start adding more.




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  11. Is green tea or matcha tea better if organic? And what about heavy metal, lead contamination in these teas? Actually every time I drink green tea or matcha, it makes me nauseous for some reason…




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  12. But wait! The video seems to end ambiguously in terms of the efficacy of green tea, doesn’t it? It seems to say that green tea doesn’t work for treating prostate cancer and even its preventative qualities are being called into question, doesn’t it? Given the risks associated with the tea pills, it seems to say, you should stick with drinking the tea but one is left wondering why bother, or at least I am. Am I missing something?




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    1. Perhaps. If you refer to the transcript, rather than the video, it might be more clear. The transcript bottom is up beside the video screen. Dr. G’s conclusion is “Okay, green or black? A recent study randomized about a hundred men with prostate cancer to consume 6 cups a day of green or black tea found a significant drop in PSA levels and NF-kappa beta in the green tea group, but not the black tea or control groups. NF-kappa beta is thought to be a prognostic marker for prostate cancer progression; and so, the green tea appeared to work better than the black.”

      What may seem ambiguous is really that the research is not yet complete. At present can only say that “markers” are improving, not the disease itself. There is need for a future test which has an “until now” moment. Hope this helps.




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    2. Agree with the responder below. The response to the In situ lesion was very impressive in that by reading the article they tested High Grade neoplasia which is quite atypical – trust me – I’m a pathologist. Since actual cancer requires not only a more extensive lesion but frank invasion of the surrounding tissue it is not surprising that there was not conclusive evidence of improvement – particularly since the sample size was so small. The amount of improvement in the high grade lesions is to me reason enough to go out an buy some green tea for my husband and sons.




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    1. Hi, Jack Hall. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. While there have been some adverse effects associated with green tea extracts, I am not aware of any related to just drinking green tea in that amount. I hope that helps!




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      1. Thanks. I drink green tea in these quantities already. Never having experienced any adverse effects, I can say anecdotally that this is quite safe. Although I have heard some some case reports of people becoming poisoned due to tea consumption, one case having had something to do with folate toxicity.

        I’ll continue my habit at any rate, as it seems like a reasonable thing to do. Thanks for your response.




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  13. Mmh I have a problem: It’s said in the video that placebo pills are made of sugar. Since when is sugar neutral? Especially in cell development! Are Placebos always made of sugar or only in this experiment?




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  14. Happy New Year!

    Would you please send me a link to the video you posted sometime in2016 related to the negative effects of milk in matcha tea? I have been looking for it both on your website and YouTube channel, but cannot find it.
    Thanks for all the awesome information you post supporting healthy living.
    Jan




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  15. Just how soluble are these beneficial compounds? To get the 1/2 prostate cancer benefit, would I have to drink six cups of green tea? Or could I just put six green tea bags in one cup and drink that? Is six cups worth the maximum benefit?




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  16. I am a 21 year old college football player. I took on the vegan plant based diet and I love it. It has been 8 months and I can tell a complete difference in my athletic performance. My question is “What type of foods should I consume to gain muscle, faster recovery time, and still maintain a balanced diet?”




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    1. Hi Russell! I am a volunteer for nutritionfacts, nutrition student, and runner, and have experience the same thing as you after transitioning to a plant-based diet. It is great to heart that your change in dietary habits has resulted in better athletic performance! Hopefully you only continue to improve! Here is a page with some more videos on athletic performance: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/athletes/. Also a few interesting ones about muscle soreness and the benefits of beets/beet juice: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/reducing-muscle-soreness-with-berries/, http://nutritionfacts.org/video/reducing-muscle-fatigue-with-citrus/, http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/beets/. Hope this information is helpful!




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    1. Hi Ted, I am one of the site moderators. Increasing your consumption of green tea is always a good thing but my read on the video is that it takes a fair amount of green tea on a daily basis to make a real difference in risk. The recommendation is to drink green tea in the manner that the Asians do which is pretty much all day long. I will add that in my former life as a surgical pathologist I diagnosed a fair amount of Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia and the fact that they did the study with the high grade group – very distinctively abnormal cells – and they had such a profound response is very impressive to me. I do not like tea and find the green version particularly insipid but this study makes me think it’s worth another try for my sons and my husband especially.




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      1. DocBeccy: re: Green Tea. I’m not a fan of plain green tea, but I find some of the flavored versions to be pretty good. The Stash version of Moroccan Mint Green Tea is one that I particularly like (for a tea). Just thought I would mention it. :-)




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  17. I mix hibiscus and green tea together. I want to get some of the anti-oxidant power of the hibiscus and I like that the green tea reduces the strong flavor of the hibiscus. If anyone sees a downside to doing this, please let me know. Thanks.




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  18. I brew raw hibiscus tea leaves and then mix 1/2 orange juice and add 1/4 teaspoon of steva extract followed by a chew of Trident gum. Fantastic drink. From a prostate cancer survivor thanks to pencil beam proton therapy.




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    1. Dear Joshua,

      why not? If you don’t take any drugs, go for it! Otherwise, please, consult this with your doctor.

      Have a nice day,

      Moderator Adam P.




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      1. I have been mixing loose leaf hibiscus and green tea (infused with lemon) for over a year now, and I haven’t died. I find that the green tea cuts the strength of the hibiscus (which can be annoying) and the hibiscus makes the green tea a lot less bland and boring. The slight lemon flavor enhances the overall taste. Cheers.




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