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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 to help:

  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Infection
  • 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.


Green Tea, Fluoride and the Thyroid

Problems With Green Tea

Potentially Harmful Fluoride Levels Found in Instant Teas

Green Tea Health Benefits

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