If you cannot go a day without having a cup of tea, you will feel pleased at the findings of a new piece of research.
A study published on Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that drinking tea could be associated with a lower risk of mortality.
Scientists from the US National Institutes of Health’s Cancer Institute surveyed 498,043 adults aged 40 to 69 in the United Kingdom.
Eighty-five per cent reported that they regularly drank tea.
Of those, 89 per cent said they drank the black variety.
When compared with those who did not drink tea, people who consumed two or more cups per day had a 9 to 13 per cent lower risk of mortality, researchers said.
The study was conducted with a questionnaire answered from 2006 to 2010 and followed up after 14 years.
Its result was the same regardless of whether the person added milk or sugar to their tea, or what their preferred temperature was.
The study found the association held up for heart disease deaths but there was no clear trend for cancer deaths.
Researchers were not sure why, but Maki Inoue-Choi, who led the study, said it was possible there were not enough cancer deaths for any effect to show up.
Observational studies still raise caution
A study like this, based on observing people’s habits and health, can not prove cause and effect.
“Observational studies like this always raise the question: Is there something else about tea drinkers that makes them healthier?” said Marion Nestle, a professor of food studies at New York University.
“It’s great to drink. But a cautious interpretation seems like a good idea,” she said.
“There’s not enough evidence to advise changing tea habits,” Dr Inoue-Choi said.
“If you drink one cup a day already, I think that is good.”
Higher tea intake was associated with lower mortality risk among those drinking 2 or more cups per day, regardless of genetic variation in caffeine metabolism. These findings suggest that tea, even at higher levels of intake, can be part of a healthy diet.