Why Green Tea Would be Healthy EXCEPT for This One Dangerous Issue
Green tea has emerged as a major natural player in fighting diseases
like heart disease and cancer and helping with weight loss. Many people
sip it religiously everyday in the hopes that it will make them healthier.
Here is just a short list of some of the conditions green tea is supposed
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High cholesterol levels
- Heart disease
- Impaired immune function
- Obesity, overweight
- High blood sugar levels
It's true that green tea contains health-boosting antioxidants,
but can they make up for the high levels of fluoride?
And, in fact, green tea would be healthy-largely because it's a rich
source of catechin polyphenols, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),
which is a potent antioxidant-except for one glaring issue: Green tea
contains large amounts of fluoride. Black tea also contains fluoride,
but the amount in green tea is about double that in black tea. A study
in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of American Medicine also found
that instant teas appear to contain excessive levels of fluoride.
How Does Fluoride Get Into Tea?
"The tea plant is known to accumulate fluoride from the soil and
water," says Michael Whyte, M.D., professor of medicine, pediatrics
and genetics. "We don't know how much variation there is from brand
to brand and year to year."
Is Fluoride Harmful?
Drinking high levels of fluoride can cause bone-forming cells to lay
down extra skeletal tissue, which increases bone density. At the same
time, it also increases bone brittleness that can result in a disease
known as skeletal fluorosis. So while bones are more dense, they are also
more brittle. Skeletal fluorosis can produce:
- Bone, muscle and joint pain
- Calcification of ligaments
- Bone spurs
- Fused vertebrae
- Difficulty moving joints
Says Dr. Whyte, "When fluoride gets into your bones, it stays there
for years, and there is no established treatment for skeletal fluorosis,
No one knows if you can fully recover from it." In other words, fluoride
accumulates in your body.
Skeletal fluorosis, which has crippled the man above, is caused
by consuming high levels of fluoride.
And according to one estimate, the first phase of skeletal fluorosis
could easily develop in as few as five years if a person were to consume
the amount of fluoride found in three or four cups of green tea every
day. That's because studies have shown that most green teas have more
fluoride than the EPA's safe limit for drinking water, which is 4 parts
per million (ppm).
Fluoride can also affect the thyroid. Specifically, it suppresses thyroid
function, leading to hypothyroidism. This is a well-known fact, as, ironically,
the amount of fluoride in a typical cup of tea is actually much higher
than amounts that were used decades ago as medication for hyperthyroidism,
to reduce thyroid activity.
Fluoride, Fluoride Everywhere
Perhaps the tea on its own would not be as much of an issue if Americans
weren't already exposed to fluoride from other sources, but this isn't
the case. Americans get fluoride from fluoridated water (which is also
likely used to steep the tea), toothpastes, Teflon-coated cookware, some
wines and sparkling mineral waters and chewing tobacco.
Even so, British and African studies conducted in the 1990s have found
that some people are drinking between 5.8 ppm and 9 ppm of fluoride everyday
from tea alone! Remember that the EPA's safe limit for drinking water
is 4 ppm.
Fluoride Together With Aluminum?
Another issue? The fluoride in tea exists along with aluminum. When these
two compounds are combined it can actually increase the potential toxicity
of fluoride, especially in relation to neurological and renal damage,
and increases the extent to which aluminum can be absorbed by the body,
which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
One Final Thought ...
As an aside, it's also been found that green tea can contain high levels
of the pesticide DDT and a similar one called Dursba. So, if you do choose
to drink green tea, you may be better off buying organic. This won't affect
the fluoride content, but at least you will be spared drinking pesticides
in your cup of tea.
Fluoride and the Thyroid
With Green Tea
Harmful Fluoride Levels Found in Instant Teas
Tea Health Benefits