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One Major Side Effect of Drinking Tea, Says New Study

Women who drink tea four times per week may be able to prevent the onset of this condition.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

More than 159 million Americans are drinking tea on any given day, according to the Tea Association of the USA. What's not to love about tea? It's healthy, light, and also quite delicious.

And, if you're a younger woman who regularly drinks the calming beverage, you could be setting yourself up to prevent a major health issue that's associated with menopause.

A new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who began drinking tea before menopause had significantly higher bone mineral density (BMD) after menopause than those who didn't drink tea before menopause. (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work).

Typically, menopause can cause a rapid reduction in BMD. This, in turn, puts older women at risk for conditions like osteoporosis, a debilitating bone disease. During the menopausal period, estrogen levels significantly drop. This drop in estrogen is associated with a process called bone resorption which can lead to osteoporosis.

Studies have found that high caffeine intake actually may increase the rate of bone loss in older women. While that sounds contradictory, researchers have pointed out that most of those studies have been done on populations that drink coffee—which typically has more caffeine than tea. For example, one 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, whereas the same size cup of green tea has about 35 milligrams. 

This new study—which looked at over 1,300 women under the age of 80—found that the link between high postmenopausal BMD and tea drinking was even more significant in women who drank more than four cups of tea per week.

The latest research supports an existing body of evidence that drinking tea can help older women retain BMD. Almost two decades ago, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a similar link.

The findings also reveal that picking up a tea-drinking habit earlier in life may pay off in the long run. The study found no significant improvement in BMD in women who started drinking tea after menopause.

So, why not stock up on some healthy teas next time you're at the grocery store—aside from helping you wind down before bed, it could also help to set you up for a healthier future.

For more, be sure to check out 6 Ways Drinking Green Tea Can Add Years to Your Life, According to Science.

Urvija Banerji
Urvija Banerji has written about food for publications like Atlas Obscura, Eater, and The Swaddle. Read more
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