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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 16:36 GMT
Tea could help combat diabetes
Black tea
Some constituents of tea are thought to combat diabetes
Drinking black tea could help prevent diabetes, according to new findings by scientists at Dundee University.

The researchers said black tea may have the potential to combat type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

They believe certain constituents of tea could act as an insulin substitute.

In Scotland, it is believed more than 190,000 people have diabetes which develops when the body fails to make enough insulin.

In Tayside alone, latest figures show a 90% increase in the incidence of diabetes in the last 9 years.

There is definitely something interesting in the way these naturally occurring components of black tea may have a beneficial effect
Dr Graham Rena
Dundee University

The Dundee team, led by Dr Graham Rena, hopes to secure more funding to continue its investigation.

In collaboration with colleagues at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, the researchers discovered that several black tea constituents, known as theaflavins and thearubigins, mimicked insulin action.

"What we have found is that these constituents can mimic insulin action on proteins known as foxos," Dr Rena said.

"Foxos have previously been shown to underlie associations between diet and health in a wide variety of organisms including mice, worms and fruit flies.

"The task now is to see whether we can translate these findings into something useful for human health."

Experimental stage

Dr Rena stressed that further research was needed.

"People shouldn't be rushing to drink masses of black tea thinking it will cure them of diabetes," he said. "We are still some way from this leading to new treatments or dietary advice.

"Our research into tea compounds is at a preclinical, experimental stage and people with diabetes should continue to take their medicines as directed by their doctor."

"However, there is definitely something interesting in the way these naturally occurring components of black tea may have a beneficial effect, both in terms of diabetes and our wider health."

The results of the research appear in the current issue of the journal Aging Cell.

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