Drinking a lot of tea increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers claimed yesterday.
Their study of 76,000 women found that four or more cups a day caused the highest risk. It made the women 78 per cent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who drank no tea. Drinking any amount of tea increased the chance by 40 per cent, compared with those who abstained entirely. No similar effect was found with coffee.
The findings were presented at the annual congress in Rome of the European League Against Rheumatism.
Christopher Collins, of Georgetown University Medical Centre in the U.S., said he was surprised by the differences between coffee and tea. 'We set out to determine whether tea or coffee consumption, or the method of preparation of the drinks was associated with an increased risk [of rheumatoid arthritis],' he added.
'It is surprising that we saw such differences in results between tea and coffee drinkers. This does make us wonder what it is in tea, or in the method of preparation of tea that causes the significant increase in risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.'