freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger What's your poison? | Christine Morgan - Journalist
+44 (0)7931 342850

No, I’m not talking about alcohol. There’s a new dilemma in town – namely, tea or coffee? Okay, so not a new dilemma really. For riskfactorphobes, the predicament has been around since clinical studies began. Researchers are, as you may already know, rather fond of studying the effects of tea and coffee drinking (you’d think they’d have enough on their plates looking at the effects of all those more intoxicating beverages, wouldn’t you?). And many findings have been published on the various merits (or demerits, as the case often turns out to be) of a good old cup of rosy lee and a shot of the devil’s brew itself (labelled as such because, ask almost anyone which is better for you, tea or coffee, and you can bet coffee won’t get the majority vote).

The studies to date have been many, with tea’s antioxidants awarded almost mythical status in their ability to grant good health in a number of ways. But let’s not forget that coffee contains antioxidants too… There have, however, been a not-too-shabby number of studies suggesting that the drinking of coffee – and tea – may be implicated in a number of health-based risk factor rises too. And that brings me to the latest study, which suggests that if you’re a woman and you drink a lot of tea, your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is higher than someone who never touches the stuff.

So what’s a lot, you might ask? The study – presented today at the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome – says those who drink more than four cups of tea a day are 78 percent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than non-tea drinkers. Four cups? Blimey. That’s just breakfast for me. And drinking any amount of tea, the researchers from Georgetown University Center in Washington say, raises your risk for RA by 40 percent.

The good news, however, is that while tea was linked with RA, coffee was awarded a clean bill of health. In this study, at least.

There again, as Paul Emery, Professor of Rheumatology at Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, says in his remarks about the study, “No strong causation effect has been confirmed”. In other words, this study has found a link but there’s no physical evidence and it could all be one big coincidence (my interpretation, not Professor Emery’s).

So go on, put the kettle on. Mine’s with milk, no sugar.