Fact Check

Matcha does not protect against cancer

A can of matcha powder. It is fine to drink matcha but do not expect it to protect you from the disease, said Dr Tan Wu Meng, a consultant in medical oncology at Parkway Cancer Centre.
A can of matcha powder. It is fine to drink matcha but do not expect it to protect you from the disease, said Dr Tan Wu Meng, a consultant in medical oncology at Parkway Cancer Centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

Headline: Can drinking green tea powder boost your health and save you from falling ill?

Where: A British news website, express.co.uk, ran a story on Sept 24 with this headline, Cancer diet matcha link: Why THIS trendy health food might protect you from disease.

It quoted nutritionists saying that the high level of antioxidants in matcha can help fight cancer. One nutritionist reportedly said the benefits include reducing the growth of new blood vessels in tumours, which slows their growth.

This may encourage some people to start drinking matcha regularly in the belief that it can help to treat their cancer or prevent it.

Checked: Dr Tan Wu Meng, a consultant in medical oncology at Parkway Cancer Centre in Singapore, said it is fine to drink matcha but do not expect it to protect you from the disease.

Some laboratory studies have shown that green tea extracts can stop cancer cells from growing, according to Cancer Research UK. "Green tea contains substances called polyphenols and a sub-group called catechins, which scientists think give it antioxidant properties.

"But while these lab results are encouraging, we need evidence from human studies to prove them."

 

Dr Tan said there is no definite evidence to suggest that drinking matcha (green tea) can help fight or prevent cancer. "But if you like matcha, it's all right to take it in moderation for the flavour."

Just be aware that the matcha you consume may be mixed with sugar and drinking it would add to your sugar intake, he said.

Tea also contains some caffeine which, in high doses, can affect your heart rate and rhythm, he added. "Take it in moderation and do consult your doctor if you have a history of heart disease."

Joyce Teo

•This column seeks to debunk fake health news reported around the world. It will run till the end of the month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Matcha does not protect against cancer'. Print Edition | Subscribe