Tea consumption leads to epigenetic changes in women

Tea consumption leads to epigenetic changes in women
 

It is well known that our environment and lifestyle factors, such as food choices, smoking and exposure to chemicals, can lead to epigenetic changes. Epigenetic changes are chemical modifications that turn our genes off or on. In a new study researchers show that tea consumption in women leads to epigenetic changes in genes that are known to interact with cancer and estrogen metabolism. The results are published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

In the current study, researchers investigated if coffee and tea consumption may lead to epigenetic changes. DNA methylation was measured from whole blood at 421,695 CpG sites distributed throughout the genome and analysed in men and women both separately and together in each cohort. Meta-analyses of the results and additional regional-level analyses were performed.

Previous studies have suggested that both coffee and tea play an important role in modulating disease-risk in humans by suppressing tumour progression, decreasing inflammation and influencing estrogen metabolism, mechanisms that may be mediated by epigenetic changes.

The meta-analysis revealed that two individual CpG-sites, mapping to DNAJC16 and TTC17, were differentially methylated in relation to tea consumption in women. No individual sites were associated in men or in the sex-combined analysis for tea or coffee. The regional analysis revealed that 28 regions were differentially methylated in relation to tea consumption in women.

These regions contained genes known to interact with estradiol metabolism and cancer. No significant regions were found in the sex-combined and male-only analysis for either tea or coffee consumption. Thus, the results show that there are epigenetic changes in women consuming tea, but not in men. Interestingly, many of these epigenetic changes were found in genes involved in cancer and estrogen metabolism.

"Previous studies have shown that tea consumption reduces estrogen levels which highlights a potential difference between the biological response to tea in men and women. Women also drink higher amounts of tea compared to men, which increases our power to find association in women", says study lead. The study did not find any epigenetic changes in individuals drinking coffee.

Results from this study highlight the role of pharmacologically active components in tea being involved in cancer and estrogen metabolism, which can reflect that health effects related to tea consumption might be due to epigenetic changes. However, this study does not show if it is healthy or not to drink tea and further research is needed to understand how epigenetic changes found in this study affects our health. It has previously been demonstrated that tea catechins lead to epigenetic changes in vitro and in cultured cancer cells, arguing that some of the health effects of tea may be mediated by epigenetics.

http://www.uu.se/en/media/news/article/?id=8870&area=2,4,10,16&typ=artikel&lang=en

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