Are The Health Benefits of Tea Exaggerated?
One of my pet peeves is the barrage of advertisements I see on the web for “Amazing Fat Loss Oolong Tea” or “How I Lost 55 lbs With Oolong” or, the most egregious: “Drop 3 Clothes Sizes Fast And Easy! 2 day tea diet. 100% Authentic or Money Back Guarantee.”
The advertising must be working, because I have been asked on more than one occasion: “Do you guys sell that weight loss tea I keep hearing about?” or “Does tea really prevent cancer?”
Now, I have no idea if a tea actually exists that can miraculously reduce my waist size by multiples of 3 (if such a tea exists, I will gladly buy it now), but there seem to be plenty of reasons to be just a little doubtful whether the claim is weight loss or cancer prevention.
From The New York Times:
The promise, researchers say, stems from the tea’s polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that studies have shown can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in animals. But the evidence has been sparse when researchers have tried to determine if the findings carry over into humans. Results so far are mixed, at best. But the evidence over all is such that the Food and Drug Administration refused this year to let green tea producers place statements about cancer-fighting properties on their packages.
Last year, the UK Tea Council was reprimanded for a misleading poster:
…while there was some scientific evidence that tea may protect against cancer and heart disease, the findings had yet to be confirmed in tests on humans.
And back in 2002, a well known tea company got into a spot of trouble because:
…it said tea also contained “essential nutrients” such as potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B6. However, many of these nutrients do not come from the tea – but from the milk commonly added to it instead.
I am aware that I am probably bucking the trend here. As a marketer of tea, shouldn’t I get on my soapbox and push the health benefits of tea to the maximum extent possible? After all, study after study indicate yet more evidence of tea’s beneficial role. Yes, I know the studies are promising, and I believe that there are plenty of very real health benefits from drinking tea. But even the experts acknowledge that their studies are encouraging, but not conclusive. So next time you encounter some “irrefutable” or “100% guaranteed” claim that tea can help you lose 55lbs, or prevent you from getting cancer, a healthy dose of skepticism may be just what the doctor ordered.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to find tea to be much more appealing when I think of it as a delicious drink to be savored rather than as a medicine to be endured.
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