~ The Asian Paradox

A review by Yale University researchers published in the May, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons concluded that green tea consumption may be the explanation of the "Asian paradox." Similar to the French paradox, which refers to the hypothesis that red wine protects the French from the adverse cardiovascular effects of a fatty diet, green tea may protect Asians from the adverse effects of smoking. Many people in Asia are smokers, yet there is a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer than in many countries in which fewer people smoke.

Professor and Chief of Vascular Surgery at Yale's Department of Surgery Bauer Sumpio, MD, and colleagues reviewed over 100 experimental and clinical studies concerning green tea to arrive at their conclusion. He noted that the average 1.2 liters of green tea consumed each day by many Asians provides the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, lower platelet aggregation, regulate lipids, and promote proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells, which are all factors involved in reducing cardiovascular disease. The compound has also been demonstrated to prevent the growth of some tumors.

Dr Sumpio stated, "We do not yet have a full explanation for the 'Asian paradox,' which refers to the very low incidence of both heart disease and cancer in Asia, even though consumption of cigarettes is greater than in most other countries. But we now have some theories."

"More studies are necessary to fully elucidate and better understand green tea's method of action, particularly at the cellular level," Dr Sumpio concluded. "The evidence is strong that green tea consumption is a useful dietary habit to lower the risk for, as well as treat, a number of chronic diseases. Certainly, however, smoking cessation is the best way to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer."
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