Friday, January 2, 2009

Drinking 10 Cups of Green Tea Daily and Not Smoking Could Add 12 Years to Your Life

Drinking green tea and not smoking could add over a decade to your life
Drinking green tea and not smoking could add over a decade to your life. (Photo by Kanko*)

Since green tea has such a wide range of health benefits, it is commonly assumed that drinking green tea slows down aging in general. However, epidemiological proof of tea extending lifespan is lacking for the most part.

Now it seems that this hypothesis has indeed been proven true. Nakachi et al. followed the green tea consumption and deaths (cancer, cardiovascular death and all cause mortality) in a Japanese population for 13 years. Since the Japanese have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, they're ideal for a study like this.

Green tea and cancer

The authors found that onset of cancer and death from cancer were significantly delayed in those who drank the most green tea. That is, they developed cancer later and died from cancer later than those who drank less tea. Compared to people who drank three cups or less per day, those who consumed at least 10 cups had a 41% less chance of getting cancer.

The cancer-preventative effect was more pronounced in women than men: mean age at cancer onset in women who drank more than 10 cups was 7.6 years later than in those who drank less than three cups, whereas in men the delay was 4.1 years. The difference in age at cancer death was 3.9 years and 5.9 years in men and women, respectively.

Cancer deaths and green tea consumption
The figure above shows the age-specific cancer death rates among women by daily consumption of green tea. You can see that up until the age of 80, higher green tea consumption correlates with less cancer rather clearly, but after that the data gets mixed.

Green tea and cardiovascular deaths

Cardiovascular deaths were similarly inversely correlated with green tea consumption in both men and women.

In men, mean age at cardiovascular death was 74.9 years in those who drank up to 3 cups, 76.2 years in those who drank 4-9 cups, and 76.8 years in those who drank more than 10 cups. In women, the values were 79.5 years, 80.6 years, and 80.9 years. Even though the women lived longer, here the effect of green tea on lifespan was more pronounced in men.

Green tea and all cause death

Mean age at death among men and women drinking more than 10 cups per day was 4.3 and 3.8 years higher, respectively, than those consuming less than three cups.

The largest difference in age of death was observed between smokers who drank less than 3 cups and non-smokers who drank more than 10 cups: mean ages of death were 67.7 and 79.4 years, respectively. So drinking lots of green tea and not smoking extended lifespan by more than ten years.

Cumulative survival and green tea consumption
The figure above shows the cumulative survival among women over 40 by daily consumption of green tea. Again, those who drank more had a better chance of surviving onto the next year: 74% of those who drank up to three cups, 80% of those who drank 4-9 cups, and 82% of those who drank more than 10 cups were alive at age 80. After that, the differences became smaller.

The authors conclude:

The median survival time (equivalent to average lifespan of women who have already lived to the age of 40) was 87.1, 88.2 or 89.9 years for groups consuming below 3 cups, 4-9 cups, and over 10 cups a day, respectively, indicating about two years longer lifetime associated with large consumption of green tea.

On the other hand, cumulative survival among men did not show such clear differences by consumption of green tea as were seen in women. This is in part due to the deleterious effect of cigarette smoking, which apparently disturbs the beneficial effects of green tea. In fact, when we divided men by smoking status, the life-table analysis among non-smokers showed [that] current smokers consuming over 10 cups a day showed the highest survival in ages before 70, and there were no substantial differences in cumulative survival in ages after 70 between the group consuming over 10 cups and 4-9 cups a day, although smokers consuming below three cups had a much lower survival.


Green tea increases lifespan by preventing death from age-related illnesses, especially cancer. The cancer-protective effect of green tea is especially pronounced in women, whereas the protection from cardiovascular death seems to be stronger in men.

Mean age at death from all causes was ~4 years higher in those who drank more than 10 cups than those who drank less than three cups per day. The best combination was more than 10 cups of green tea and no smoking, whereas the worst combination was less than three cups of green tea plus smoking. The difference in age of death between these two groups was almost 12 years.

If you're after those extra years, you should start drinking green tea during middle age or earlier. And even though more may not always be better, in this case it seems to be: if you can handle 10 cups per day like some of the Japanese in this study did, go for it.

For more information on green tea, see these posts:

Green Tea, Black Tea & Oolong Tea Increase Insulin Activity by More than 1500%
Green Tea Grows Hair in Vitro, Might Work in Vivo
Green Tea Reduces the Formation of AGEs
Dental Health Effects of Green and Black Tea

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7 kommenttia:

Anonymous February 10, 2010 at 2:46 AM  

I think an important factor here is if the 10+ cup a day drinkers were reusing the same tea leaves or making a fresh brew each time (or in between, maybe 2-3 brews per 10 cups for example)

JLL February 14, 2010 at 11:55 AM  


That's probably the case here, yes. There's some discussion on this at the comment section of this post:

Vitamin C protects green tea catechins from degradation


Ben April 27, 2012 at 6:05 AM  

It's probably the case that they are re-using tea leaves? Is that to say that drinking 10 fresh cups per day might be detrimental to health? Or even more advantageous?

I couldn't discern from this brief conversation what your conclusion was.

JLL April 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM  


Yes, probably they are re-using them. AFAIK, there are no human studies using 10 fresh cups, so I don't have a definite conclusion. I don't think 10 cups would be a problem for the liver, but then again, unless one has a serious health problem, I'm not sure 10 fresh cups would be advantageous compared to 10 cups of re-used tea.

Besides, if you don't re-use the leaves, some of the catechins never get absorbed into the water, which means that way is not really comparable with this study.


Anonymous August 16, 2012 at 2:02 PM  

Obviously the smokers are decreasing their lifespawn instead of the Teadrinkers incleasing. Its a bad comparison. Id you want to compare thwn compare Tea drinkers and non Teadrinkers

Eugenia January 20, 2013 at 9:39 AM  

Is it safe to drink more than five cups of green tea a day? What about the milligrams of caffeine and antioxidants? Is there a limit to how much you can take in, in a day?

C June 25, 2013 at 9:42 PM  

also important to note the size of one cup. Most mugs that I have can hold around 2-3 cups.

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