SINGAPORE: Drinking tea brewed from tea leaves daily can reduce the risk of dementia, according to a new study released by the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Thursday (Mar 16).
According to the study, tea leaves contain bioactive compounds that can help protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. In addition, the benefits are not limited to a particular type of tea, as long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black or oolong tea.
Led by Assistant Professor Feng Lei from NUS’ department of psychological medicine, the study surveyed more than 950 seniors – aged 55 years and above – for seven years. It found that regular consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline by 50 per cent. It also found that those who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease may experience up to 86 per cent reduction in their risk of getting dementia.
While the study was conducted only on Chinese elderly, Asst Prof Feng said the results could apply to other races as well.
"There are no obvious differences in the way the brain ages across different races and ethnic groups," he said.
The study collected tea consumption information from the participants from 2003 to 2005, and assessed their cognitive functions every two years until 2010. It also looked at the lifestyles, medical conditions, physical and social activities of its participants.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Asst Prof Feng said findings from the study have important implications for dementia prevention.
"Despite high-quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory,” he said.
“Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.”