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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
Tea may protect against Parkinson's
Green tea
A chemical in green tea has protective properties
Another potentially beneficial effect of tea has been uncovered by scientists who say it may help protect against Parkinson's disease.

They have identified a chemical antioxidant in green tea which has already been show to have protective effects on several disease processes.

Green tea consumption is associated with decreased risk of breast, pancreatic, colon, oesophageal, and lung cancers in humans.

Further trials on human patients need to be undertaken to establish whether green tea would help in the fight against Parkinson's

Parkinson's Disease Society spokesman
It contains the potent antioxidant polyphenol, which has also been shown to protect against heart disease.

Previous studies indicate that green tea extracts may have protective effects on Parkinson's disease in test animals, but the underlying protective mechanisms were not clear.

However, scientists in the US told the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology they have made progress in understanding the possible mechanism by which polyphenol protects against Parkinson's disease.

The disease is characterised by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells that control movement.

Researchers at Baylor college of Medicine in Houston, found the antioxidants in the tea helped to fight free radicals, which cause cell damage in the brain, which in turn could cause Parkinson's Disease.

'Additional' therapy

However, research was carried out on mice and although it has shown positive results, scientists say polyphenol now needs to be tested on humans.

It could mean that Parkinson's disease patients who drink green tea or take polyphenol in capsule form may be less likely to progress with their symptoms, experts suggest.

A Parkinson's Disease Society spokesman said: "Recent reports have identified that green tea may be an aid in the protection of cell damage in recent trails involving mice.

"Further trials on human patients need to be undertaken to establish whether green tea would help in the fight against Parkinson's.

"In particular the amount of green tea that needs to be consumed has to be identified."

The society said that green tea would be used in addition to any drug treatments and would not be an alternative therapy.

It would also have to be taken in consultation with a GP.

See also:

14 Dec 00 | Health
Parkinson's 'runs in families'
27 Oct 00 | Health
Hope of Parkinson's 'cure'
26 Nov 98 | Medical notes
Parkinson's Disease
27 Feb 02 | Health
Tea health ads rapped
22 May 01 | Health
Tea 'good for teeth'
23 Jul 01 | Health
Good news for tea drinkers
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