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It is now well known that the antioxidants found in tea can prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that lead to the formation of plaque in artery walls, although very high concentrations of tea flavonoids are needed to produce this effect. A new study has indicated an alternative explanation for the heart benefits of tea, showing that flavonoids improve the function of the vascular endothelium which forms the inner lining of cells in all blood vessels and produces substances that regulate the diameter of the blood vessel. It responds to changes in the body's oxygen and blood flow needs, by causing blood vessels to dilate or contract and further inhibits the formation of blood clots and the development of inflammation in the vessel wall. All these functions may be impaired in individuals with atherosclerosis (endothelial dysfunction). Observation of 50 individuals with coronary artery disease found that tea improved endothelial-dependent dilation in their arteries, whilst water and caffeine alone had no effect. (Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 10/7/01). Meanwhile two new papers supporting the health benefits of drinking black tea were presented at the Epidemiology Congress 2001 in Toronto. The first paper, a national cross-sectional study of 1,764 women in Saudi Arabia, showed that tea drinkers are 19% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. The second showed that tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of rectal cancer in Moscow women.