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JOURNAL: Am J Cardiol 2002;90:1150-1153.
AUTHORS: Dr. Momiyama
ABSTRACT: New research from Japan suggests that green tea use may reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (MI). Although study subjects who drank one or more cups of green tea were no less likely to have coronary artery disease (CAD) than were those who did not drink green tea, they were much less likely to have an MI.
COMMENTARY: "We found...that MI was less prevalent in green tea drinkers, suggesting that regular green tea intake may be playing a protective role against the development of MI in Japanese," study coauthor Dr. Yukihiko Momiyama, of the National Defense Medical College in Saitama.
The study involved 393 patients who underwent angiography to rule out CAD. Many of the participants had risk factors for CAD, including hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Dr. Momiyama's team did not detect a link between the number of cups of green tea a person drank each day and the risk or severity of CAD. However, those who drank at least one cup of green tea per day were 42% less likely to have a MI than people who did not drink green tea.
For many years, researchers have been trying to determine why CAD is less common in Japan than in the West. Although there are probably many factors that explain the difference, some scientists suspect that use of green tea--a common beverage in Japan--may protect against CAD.
Green tea is known to contain high levels of flavonoids, compounds that have been shown to neutralize free radicals. By protecting against oxidative damage, flavonoids may decrease the risk of CAD and stroke, the researchers explain.
Several reports have found that people who consume high levels of flavonoids are less likely to die from CAD; and another study linked high flavonoid consumption to a reduced risk of MI.