Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Studies in cell cultures and animal models have linked tea intake with a reduced risk of cancer.
Overall, epidemiological studies show that drinking tea is more likely to be beneficial than harmful in terms of cancer risk, although the risk of cancer appears to be reduced only slightly. Green tea may lower the risk of colorectal cancer, but the amount of evidence for this association is limited.
It is unclear if tea drinking is linked to oesophageal, stomach, bowel, prostate, breast, pancreatic, lung and kidney cancer, as studies have shown inconsistent results. However a slight trend towards risk reduction has been seen for green tea and cancers of the prostate, breast and stomach.
The evidence does suggest there is no association between tea drinking and oral, pharyngeal, nasopharyngeal, ovarian, bladder and thyroid cancer.
Most studies showing a benefit from tea consumption come from Asia, where mostly green tea is drunk. Studies of Europeans who drink black tea show benefits less frequently. Therefore green tea may provide greater protection against some cancers, however more human studies are needed before any conclusion can be reached.
Cancer Council supports people drinking tea, whether it is green, black or oolong. Tea is a rich source of antioxidants, which are an important component of a healthy diet.
Cancer Council recommends caution in the consumption of tea or other beverages at very high temperatures, due to the risk of scalding and the evidence that hot tea may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer.
Read the full position statement:
Tea and cancer prevention