Oct. 8, 2007 -- Drinking tea may be good for your bones.
A new study shows elderly women who drank tea had higher bone density in their hips and less bone loss than women who didn't drink tea.
In the study, Australian researchers surveyed 275 women between the ages of 70 and 85 who were participating in a larger five-year study of calcium supplements and osteoporosis about how much black and green tea (but not herbal teas) they drank. Bone density measurements of the hip were also taken at the beginning and end of the five-year study.
The results, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that women who were regular tea drinkers had higher bone density in two sites in the hip compared with non-tea drinkers.
The bone mineral density in tea drinkers was higher than in non-tea drinkers. Tea drinkers also had less loss of bone density over a four-year period compared with non-tea drinkers. These results took into account factors such as smoking history and use of calcium supplements.
The researchers did not find a relationship between the number of cups of tea consumed per day and bone mineral density.
"Other variables, such as dietary calcium and coffee intake, physical activity, and smoking did not appear to be important confounders of the relation between tea and [bone density]," write researcher Amanda Devine, of the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia, and colleagues. "Thus, overall our data support the concept that tea intake has beneficial effects on bone structure by reducing bone loss."
Researchers say more research is needed to determine how drinking tea affects bone density. Previous studies have suggested that phytochemicals in tea, such as flavonoids, may be responsible for the protective effect against bone loss due to their estrogen-like properties.
(Do you drink tea? What’s your favorite? Talk about it on WebMD's Bone Health and Osteoporosis: Support Group message board.)