Page URL:

Drinking tea alters women's epigenetics

5 June 2017
Appeared in BioNews 903

Researchers have found that drinking tea may affect gene expression in women.

The study found that tea consumption causes epigenetic changes in women, but not in men. The affected genes are associated with oestrogen metabolism and cancer, although it is not yet known if the changes are beneficial or not.

'Previous studies have shown that tea consumption reduces oestrogen levels, which highlights a potential difference between the biological response to tea in men and women,' said lead author Dr Weronika Ek of Uppsala University, Sweden.

Diet has been shown to influence epigenetic changes in humans. In particular, compounds in tea known as catechins have previously been shown to cause epigenetic changes in vitro in cultured human cancer cells. Other research has indicated that tea consumption plays a role in oestrogen metabolism and cancer prevention, but the mechanism behind these processes has been unclear.  

The scientists gathered information on self-reported tea and coffee consumption in 3096 adults from four European groups, measured in terms of numbers of cups per month. They checked blood samples from these individuals for signs of DNA methylation, a form of epigenetic change. Lifestyle factors including age, gender, smoking habits, and effects of tea and coffee were accounted for.

The results, published in the journal of Human Molecular Genetics, showed that coffee had no impact on gene expression in either sex. Drinking tea appeared to have no effect on DNA methylation in men but was shown to influence the epigenetics of women in 28 genomic regions.

Tea consumption was shown to change the expression of genes DNAJC16 and TTC17. These are associated with the metabolism of oestrogen and cancer.

No information was available on the type of tea, although Dr Ek said that the information came from individuals in countries which mostly consume black tea. It may also be that effects could not be seen in men due to different consumption habits.

'Women also drink higher amounts of tea compared to men, which increases our power to find association in women,' Dr Ek said.

She suggested the epigenetic changes might be one mechanism behind the tumour suppression, decreased inflammation and lower oestrogen that other studies have linked to tea consumption. However, the group needs to conduct further research to determine whether the epigenetic changes are beneficial or not.

Dr Ek also suggested that health-conscious people could be choosing tea over coffee, 'since reports and magazines have told them it is healthy to drink tea'.

Female Tea Drinkers See Epigenetic Changes in Cancer and Hormone Genes
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News |  1 June 2017
How Drinking Tea May Change Your Genes
Time |  2 June 2017
Tea and coffee consumption in relation to DNA methylation in four European cohorts
Human Molecular Genetics |  23 May 2017
Tea Causes Cancer-Related Genetic Changes In Women, But We Aren’t Sure If They’re Good Or Bad
Medical Daily |  31 May 2017
Tea consumption leads to epigenetic changes in women
Science Daily |  31 May 2017
19 November 2018 - by Dr Helen Robertson 
Your preference for tea or coffee could be down to a genetic predisposition to perceiving bitterness, a new study has found...
28 August 2018 - by Martha Henriques 
Electronic cigarettes may alter the DNA in users' mouths, potentially increasing their risk of cancer if the damage is not repaired, a preliminary study has found...
16 April 2018 - by Martha Henriques 
Regular exercise of body and mind can benefit future offspring's brain function, a study in mice has found...
30 August 2016 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
Researchers in the US have found that Hispanic individuals age slower than people from other ethnic backgrounds...
30 August 2016 - by Purvi Shah 
Scientists have identified a gene variation that could influence the amount of caffeine a person consumes....
15 July 2013 - by Emily Hoggar 
Exercise directly affects which genes are expressed or silenced, causing fat cells to function differently, according to a study in PLOS Genetics...
3 May 2011 - by Dr Jay Stone 
US researchers have identified two genes that could explain why some of us are tempted to reach for those caffeine-packed drinks...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.