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Tea drinking linked to lower stroke risk

Tea drinking linked to lower stroke risk

Friday, December 13, 2013. In a supplement to the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that covered the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles report their conclusion of a protective effect for tea drinking against stroke.

Lenore Arab and her colleagues reviewed five meta-analyses of human studies of tea or flavonoid consumption and cardiovascular disease or stroke published between 2001 and 2011. (The disease-preventive properties of tea have been attributed to its flavonoid content.) The meta-analyses included 15 case-control studies, 43 cohort studies, and 1 cross-sectional study involving green and/or black tea intake. A 21% lower risk of both stroke incidence and mortality from stroke was observed among those with high tea intake in comparison with low, and for those with a high intake of flavonoids, the risk was 20% lower. A similar reduction was associated with each three cups of tea consumed. A search for new studies published subsequent to the meta-analyses included in the current research revealed additional studies that supported the protective effect of tea-drinking against stroke.

Protective mechanisms for tea suggested by the authors include a reduction in blood pressure and improved endothelial function. "Considerable observational human evidence suggests a preventive association of tea or flavonoid intake on specific subcategories of cardiovascular disease," the authors write. "When the outcome is restricted to stroke incidence or mortality, the association seems to be the strongest and most consistent."

"The strength of this evidence supports the hypothesis that tea consumption might lower the risk of stroke," they conclude.

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Reducing three factors could cut cardiovascular disease risk by nearly half in obese men and women

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The results of a pooled analysis that appeared online on November 22, 2013 in The Lancet predict that up to half the cases of obesity-associated heart disease and stroke could be prevented by controlling blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol.

Goodarz Danaei of Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues selected 97 prospective studies that included over 1.8 million men and women for their analysis. They determined that the presence of hypertension, elevated cholesterol and high blood glucose account for up to half of the greater risk of heart disease experienced by overweight individuals and three quarters of their increased risk of stroke. "If we control these risk factors, for example through better diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, we can prevent some of the harmful effects of being overweight or obese," Dr Danaei observed.

"Large, long-term population studies like this one are a very powerful tool, allowing researchers to disentangle individual factors and understand how they each contribute to our risk of disease," noted Professor Stephen Hill, who is Chair of the Medical Research Council's Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, which contributed funding to the research. "It's interesting that, even when blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are brought under control, obese individuals are still at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. This suggests that other factors might be at play, which is likely to be of interest for future research into the consequences of obesity."

"Controlling hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes will be an essential but partial and temporary response to the obesity epidemic," stated study coauthor Majid Ezzati, who is a professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London. "As we use these effective tools, we need to find creative approaches that can curb and reverse the global obesity epidemic."

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