The Protective Properties of Tea — Green vs. Black

Is tea actually protective against prostate cancer? Well, it depends on the type of tea. 

The Cheat Sheet Upfront:

  • A new study analyzed over 58,000 British men
  • There was a 33% lower risk of Stage 4 prostate cancer in those who drank black tea
  • The amount to tea consumed with protective benefits was 5 cups or more a day
  • It apparently did not matter if sugar, milk or lemon juice was added (Geybels et al. 2013).
  • I suggest drinking green tea instead
  • Green tea has higher flavonoids that are seemingly more protective than black tea.
  • Dietary supplements of green tea are potentially helpful as well.

For more on this study, click here.

A More In-depth Assessment:

The type of tea used in this study was black tea – not the best kind as they have less of the protective qualities compared to green tea.

A study of studies (meta-analysis) looked at the effects of black tea vs green tea black tea against prostate cancer and showed that green tea but not black tea might have protective effects against prostate cancer (Zheng et al. 2011).

One prospective study looking at over 6,000 Scottish men for over 40 years showed that those who drank 7 cups of black tea a day had a 50% chance of developing prostate cancer. Those who drank up to 3 cups a day did not increase their chances of developing this disease. (Shafique et al. 2012)

Which is Better for you? Green Tea vs. Black Tea

The plant Camellia Senenisis is where green tea comes from. This plant contain a group of protective plant chemical called flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-antioxidant and anti-tumor abilities.

The difference is of the type of teas depends on the degree of fermentation:

  • Green tea: not fermented; main flavonoids are called Catechins – Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been the catechin most studied and the one displaying the most anti-cancer protection.
  • Oolong tea: moderately fermented; has some Theoflavins and low levels of EGCG.
  • Black tea: strongly fermented; contains no Catechins and no EGCG but mostly the fermented and oxidized version of EGCG called Theoflavins.

Generally, green tea has greater protective qualities than black tea, particularly as it relates to prostate cancer. As a handy "rule of thumb," look for green tea that has a lime green color to it. Often green tea looks brown, which may mean that it has been fermented or otherwise processed to some degree.

What About Green Tea Supplements?

Green tea supplements containing concentrated EGCG can also be potentially protective, and are a good option.

A study of 60 patients with High Grade Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (HGPIN) examined if taking a green tea extract supplement protected men from developing prostate cancer. About 30% of HGPIN cells become cancerous within 1 year after biopsy. After 1 year, only one tumor was diagnosed among the 30 green tea-treated men (incidence of 3%), whereas nine tumors were found among the 30 placebo-treated men (incidence of 30%). (Bettuzi et al 2006.)

By the way, we include Green Tea Extract in our ImmunoPCTN blend.

The Takeaway 

For men with prostate cancer or interested in the prevention of it , we recommend consuming green tea rather than black tea. Make sure your green tea resembles a lime green color. Supplementation with Green Tea Extract can also be potentially protective. 

Research on the protective benefits of coffee is starting to emerge, which is something that we will examine in a future article.


Geybels MS, Verhage BA, Arts IC, van Schooten FJ, Goldbohm RA, van den Brandt PA.Dietary flavonoid intake, black tea consumption, and risk of overall and advanced stage prostate cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jun 15;177(12):1388-98.

Zheng J, Yang B, Huang T, et al. Green tea and black tea consumption and prostate cancer risk: an exploratory meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 2011;63(5):663-672.

Shafique K, McLoone P, Qureshi K, et al. Tea consumption and the risk of overall and grade specific prostate cancer: a large prospective cohort study of Scottish men. Nutr Cancer 2012;64(6):790-797

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