Association between tea consumption and risk of cancer: a prospective cohort study of 0.5 million Chinese adults

China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) collaborative group

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    Current experimental and epidemiological studies provide inconsistent evidence toward the association between tea consumption and cancer incidence. We investigated whether tea consumption was associated with the incidence of all cancers and six leading types of cancer (lung cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, female breast cancer and cervix uteri cancer) among 455,981 participants aged 30–79 years in the prospective cohort China Kadoorie Biobank. Tea consumption was assessed at baseline (2004–2008) with an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Cancer cases were identified by linkage to the national health insurance system. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). In the present population, daily tea consumers were more likely to be current smokers and daily alcohol consumers. 22,652 incident cancers occurred during 10.1 years follow-up (5.04 cases/1000 person-years). When we restricted analyses to non-smokers and non-excessive alcohol consumers to minimize confounding, tea consumption was not associated with all cancers (daily consumers who added tea leaves > 4.0 g/day vs. less-than-weekly consumers: HR, 1.03; 95%CI, 0.93–1.13), lung cancer (HR, 1.08; CI, 0.84–1.40), colorectal cancer (HR, 1.08; CI, 0.81–1.45) and liver cancer (HR, 1.08; CI, 0.75–1.55), yet might be associated with increased risk of stomach cancer (HR, 1.46; CI, 1.07–1.99). In both less-than-daily and daily tea consumers, all cancer risk increased with the amount of tobacco smoked or alcohol consumed. Our findings suggest tea consumption may not provide preventive effect against cancer incidence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)753-763
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
    Issue number8
    Early online date31 May 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creative, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


    Funding Information:
    This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [81530088, 81390540, 81390544, 81390541] and the National Key R&D Program of China [2016YFC0900500, 2016YFC0900501, 2016YFC0900504]. The CKB baseline survey and the first re-survey were supported by a grant from the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong. The long-term follow-up is supported by grants from the UK Wellcome Trust [202922/Z/16/Z, 088158/Z/09/Z, 104085/Z/14/Z] and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology [2011BAI09B01]. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the article for publication.


    • Breast cancer
    • Cancer
    • Cervix uteri cancer
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Lung cancer
    • Prospective cohort study
    • Stomach cancer
    • Tea consumption

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Epidemiology


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