Oolong tea has great potential in the prevention of breast cancer, scientists believe. Laboratory tests showed the Chinese tea, used for centuries for its supposed health benefits, stopped the growth of breast cancer cells. Scientists at St Louis University, Missouri, also analysed the rates of breast cancer and deaths from the disease across China. Their analysis found regions with high oolong tea consumption had generally lower rates of the disease. The team now say the tea offers promise as a non-toxic approach to prevent breast cancer, which one in eight women will develop in their lifetime. Researchers, led by Dr Chunfa Huang, examined the effect of oolong tea on six breast cancer cell lines. The team said, “From our results, oolong tea, much like green tea, plays a role in stopping the growth of cancer cell.” Green tea has shown anti-cancer benefits in studies before, but oolong tea has been researched less. Just two per cent of the world’s tea production is oolong tea, compared to about 78 per cent black tea, and 20 per cent green tea, the authors said. It is mostly produced in China, where people have been using it for its supposed medicinal purposes for a historic period of time. Therefore, the scientists also looked at 2014 data from the Chinese and Fujian province cancer registry annual report. They found that the incidence of breast cancer in the Fujian province was 35 per cent lower than the national average. Those who drank the most oolong tea had a 25 per cent lower incidence compared to the average Fujian, and 50 per cent lower than the national average. They also appeared to have a lower mortality rate—the death rate of high consumers of oolong tea in Fujian was 68 per cent lower than the national average, according to the findings published in the journal Anticancer Research. Although the results are significant, more research is required, the authors said.