• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note/Tea Boosters

Air Date: Week of April 25, 2003

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Living on Earth’s Jessica Penney reports on how drinking tea may improve your immune system.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Coming up, too much of a good thing: how abundant irrigation may end up putting some farmers out of business in California. First this environmental health note from Jessica Penney.

[MUSIC: Health Note Theme]

PENNEY: For centuries, people have believed that drinking tea can be good for you. Recent studies have focused on the beneficial antioxidants in tea, but now scientists in Boston have discovered a new way that tea may improve your health, by bolstering the immune system.

The researchers had one group of people drink five cups of tea a day for a month. Another group drank five cups of coffee. The scientists took blood samples from both groups and isolated immune cells to test how they responded to infections. They added molecules associated with certain bacteria and tumor cells to the immune cell samples. Over 60 percent of the tea drinkers had immune cells that responded quickly by dividing and producing bacteria-killing chemicals. Only 10 percent of the coffee drinkers showed this response.

The researchers think this happens because black and green teas, but not coffee, contain small molecules that are similar to molecules produced by the bacteria and tumor cells. The tea compounds are harmless, but the similarity helps prime human immune cells to recognize harmful bacteria and be ready to fight infection. This is basically the way a vaccine works.

In a separate test, the tea drinkers’ cells even responded to a different kind of bacteria that doesn't produce molecules similar to those in teas, indicating that tea might boost the immune system in a variety of ways. The scientists plan to repeat these tests with more volunteers.

That's this week's health note. I'm Jessica Penney.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.