Tea consumption leads to epigenetic changes in women

May 31, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Epigenetic changes are chemical modifications that turn our genes off or on. In a new study from Uppsala University, researchers show that tea consumption in women leads to epigenetic changes in genes that are known to interact with cancer and estrogen metabolism. The results are published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

It is well known that our environment and lifestyle factors, such as food choices, smoking and exposure to chemicals, can lead to epigenetic changes. In the current study, researchers from Uppsala University in collaboration with research groups around Europe, investigated if coffee and may lead to epigenetic changes. Previous studies have suggested that both coffee and tea play an important role in modulating disease-risk in humans by suppressing tumour progression, decreasing inflammation and influencing , mechanisms that may be mediated by epigenetic changes.

The results show that there are epigenetic changes in women consuming tea, but not in men. Interestingly, many of these epigenetic changes were found in genes involved in cancer and estrogen metabolism. "Previous studies have shown that tea consumption reduces which highlights a potential difference between the biological response to tea in men and women. Women also drink higher amounts of tea compared to men, which increases our power to find association in women", says Weronica Ek, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, who led the study. The study did not find any epigenetic changes in individuals drinking coffee.

Results from this study highlight the role of pharmacologically active components in tea being involved in cancer and metabolism, which can reflect that health effects related to tea consumption might be due to epigenetic changes. However, this study does not show if it is healthy or not to drink tea and further research is needed to understand how epigenetic changes found in this study affects our health. It has previously been demonstrated that tea catechins lead to in vitro and in cultured cancer cells, arguing that some of the of tea may be mediated by epigenetics.

Explore further: New findings may explain the advantages of polyunsaturated fat

More information: Weronica E. Ek et al. Tea and coffee consumption in relation to DNA methylation in four European cohorts, Human Molecular Genetics (2017). DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddx194

Related Stories

The memory of a heart attack is stored in our genes

September 16, 2016

Both heredity and environmental factors influence our risk of cardiovascular disease. A new study, by researches at Uppsala University, shows now that the memory of a heart attack can be stored in our genes through epigenetic ...

​A new principle for epigenetic changes discovered

January 23, 2017

In a new study, researchers at Uppsala University have found evidence of a new principle for how epigenetic changes can occur. The principle is based on an enzyme, tryptase, that has epigenetic effects that cause cells to ...

Epigenetic changes could explain type 2 diabetes

March 7, 2014

People with type 2 diabetes have epigenetic changes on their DNA that healthy individuals do not have. This has been shown in a major study by researchers at Lund University. The researchers also found epigenetic changes ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.