Black Tea ; An Anti-Carcinogen

Black Tea is no random tea we are talking about. It is the essence of Indian inheritance. Black Tea is one of most preferred and loved beverages in our country. It is consumed with or without milk depends on the user taste. A morning without black tea seems incomplete. It rejuvenates our psyche. It decorates our breakfast. This liquid we consume everyday is more than a beverage. It is more than we consider it to be.

Black Tea is no ordinary beverage, it is an anti oxidant rich liquid for its aroma, taste and health benefits. It is a derivative of Camellia sinensis plant having two common varieties: sinensis and assamica. Camellia sinensis belongs to family Theaceae. It is a large leafed plant which is used to manufacture all forms of tea such as green, black, oolong, white and yellow. Though all forms of tea are derived from same plant but the difference lies in the manufacturing procedure.

Black is fully fermented due to which it gets strong flavor and black color. Fermentation process causes green tea polyphenols to oxidize, forming oligomeric flavanols, including theaflavins, thearubigin and other oligomers. The various theaflavins present in black tea are theaflavin-3-gallate, theaflavin and theaflavin-3, 3’-digallate. The tea plant is native to china and Southeast Asia, cultivated in tropical regions globally.

According to FAO AND FOODS 2010, top ten tea manufacturers are India, Sri-Lanka, Turkey, Iran, Argentina, Japan, Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Black tea is considered to be chemo preventive for various diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders caused due to oxidative stress. Stress due to oxidation reactions result in the generation of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) by various metabolic processes. This oxidative stress is relieved by polyphenols present in tea known as antioxidants. The natural antioxidants derived from plant are considered to have less mutagenic effects as compared to synthetic antioxidant. The most abundant phenolic compound in black tea thearubigin and have free radical scavenging properties on Human RBC. Black tea plays an important role in inhibiting rapid cell propagation and induces programmed cell death of skin benign tumor.

Black Tea also has been associated with anti allergic and antimicrobial properties. Studies showed that black tea theaflavins consumption increased the life span of fruit fly from 51 days to 56 days. Black tea may prevent from adverse effect of toxic chemicals and carcinogens. Consumption of tea prevents the growth of tumor due to presence of polyphenols in them. As per the report of National Cancer Institute, tea intake regulates and prevents the growth of benign tumor, polyphenols present in tea act against oncogenic cells. The phenolic compounds in black tea reduce the serum glucose levels in the diabetic patients.. As we all know smoking is lethal and it gives birth to several other diseases. Smoke present in cigarette contains about 4,000 harmful chemicals of which more than 70 are known to cause cancer and called as carcinogens. Toxic chemicals in smoke include nicotine, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, acetone, carbon monoxide and some tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) that not only affect the smoker but also the people around him. They can also get affected from the smoke exhaled. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have higher risk of infections like pneumonia and asthama.

Daily consumption of black tea can be preventive measure for this social and health issue. Considering the chemical and physical interactions in herbal tea infusions, black tea combined with various antioxidant rich additives are gaining popularity for modulation of antioxidant activity and anti cancer property. Black tea can be combined with medicinal herb like cinnamon in order to increase its chemo preventive effect against carcinogen induced health risks.

Cinnamon is a major traditional spice derived from the inner bark of various tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. This plant belongs to family Lauraceae. Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered as true cinnamon. Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are among the world’s top cinnamon producers. These four countries combined to produce 99% of the world’s total cinnamon.  Indonesia and China produced 75% of the world’s cinnamon in 2016. The available scientific studies suggests that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant , antitumor, cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering, and immuno modulator effects.

Cinnamon contains polyphenols such as flavonoids, tannins, cinnamaldehye and cinnamic acid that scavenge carcinogens. It will also enhance the taste and aroma of black tea so that people would love to consume it every day. Many more medicinal herbs like tulsi, wheatgrass and mint can be used to increase the antioxidant efficacy of black tea. Before jumping into any conclusion it is necessary to educate people that black tea is not just a tasty beverage, it is a ray of hope for the people living in this polluted and carcinogen rich world. But it is just a preventive measure not therapeutic. It cannot cure carcinoma but can prevent it. And prevention is always better than cure. So it is better to consume tasty black tea everyday than enduring painful therapies.

Author is pursuing PhD Zoology at Lovely Professional University and can be reached at Sumaerayusuf099@gmail.com