Tea has gained worldwide attention for its health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and fighting cancer. It has also been associated with the expression of FOXO3A, dubbed the “longevity gene” because it is most prominent in centenarians. By preventing cell damage, researchers have found that drinking green tea can reduce the risk of death by up to 82% in some people.
FOXO3 is a key player in the control of skeletal muscle proteins and is an essential regulator of protein synthesis and breakdown in muscle.
It is believed to have a strong impact on aging and age-related phenotypes as it regulates the stress response, which in turn affects lifespan.
Science Direct explains: “A significant association has been demonstrated between longevity and several variations of the FOXO3 gene.”
This observation is supported by several studies exploring the association between green tea consumption and all-cause mortality in older adults.
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Overall, these large cohort studies and meta-analyses have yielded variable results.
One thing they have in common, however, is that they all found significant reductions in all-cause mortality among habitual green tea consumers.
Specifically, one of the studies published in JAMA in 2006 showed that people who consumed the highest amounts of green tea reduced their cardiovascular risk by up to 82%.
The results showed that those who drank five or more cups of green tea a day were 76% less likely to die than those who did not.
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A meta-analysis published by the health body points out that numerous studies have found a link between EGCG and reduced incidence of cancer.
The authors explained: “We observed a significant increase in mean latency to first tumor, an approximately 70% decrease in tumor burden, and an 87% reduction in the number of invasive tumors per tumor-bearing animal in […] groups of rats drinking green tea.
“Similar protection has been observed in other animal models of cancer, including prostate, skin and lung.”
Elsewhere, the report states that evidence was found in ECGC treatment “inducing the expression of FOXO3A” and its target gene.
This evidence indicates that FOXO3A may act both as a tumor suppressor in cancer and reduce the risk of death from all causes.
Dr. Bradley Willcox, principal investigator of the National Institute of Aging-funded Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study, has previously listed several foods that may help turn on the longevity gene.
According to the expert, these can include sweet potatoes, turmeric, and foods rich in marine carotenoids like seaweed and kelp.
Besides ECGC, vegetables rich in astaxanthin, a photoactive marine compound, have also been shown to express this gene.