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According to Dutch research, drinking tea protects against the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries, especially in women. Results indicated that people who drank one to two cups of tea a day were 46% less likely to develop severe atherosclerosis, rising to 69% in those who drank four cups of tea a day. The protective benefit of tea was most pronounced among women. The authors acknowledge that at least in the West, people who drink tea generally have a healthier lifestyle and diet, which may account for the findings. In this study, for example, the researchers found that people who drank more tea tended to be lean, had a healthy diet, and smoked less. However the fairly high levels of antioxidant flavonoids in black tea are thought to protect against arterial plaques, the fatty deposits that clog arteries, by preventing fat from being deposited on artery walls (Archives of Internal Medicine 1999;159:2170-2174). Green tea appears to speed up calorie burning, including fat calorie burning, according to researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. The study authors report that, compared with placebo, treatment with green tea was associated with a "significant increase" (+4%) in daily energy expenditure. They believe that the caffeine interacts with the flavonoids in tea to alter the body's use of norepinephrine, a chemical transmitter in the nervous system, and increase the rate of calorie burning (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 1999). In Japan, The Saitama Cancer Research Institute has discovered that women with a history of breast cancer who drank 5 cups of tea daily were 50% less likely to have a recurrence than women who drink none or less than 5 daily cups. In a separate study, drinking strong tannin-rich tea has been shown to benefit genetic haemochromatosis, since tannates and other ligands inhibit the absorption of iron (BMJ no. 7168 (7th Nov '98).