Can Green Tea Damage Liver

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An otherwise healthy 16-year-old girl resident of the United Kingdom presented to the emergency department with clinical manifestations suggestive of acute hepatitis. Past medical and surgical histories were insignificant, with no history of recent travel, medications, autoimmune diseases, viral or metabolic diseases. There was only one indicator in the history which was the consumption of a Chinese green tea for the past three months.

She had bought the Chinese green tea in the hope of losing weight as the tea was publicized with claims of weight loss effects. The packaging was in the Chinese language, so she could not know the exact ingredients of the tea; however, it contained Camellia sinensis. She was consuming the tea thrice a day for three months.

The patient said:

“I had only lost a couple of pounds, but then started having horrible pains in my joints, and felt very dizzy and sick. I was very scared when I was admitted to hospital and had lots of tests, [and] I didn’t fully understand what was going on at the time.”

Her liver function tests revealed acute hepatitis.

She stopped taking green tea, which led to rapid resolution of the symptoms, and jaundice improved. At the 2-month follow-up, the liver function test had no derangements.

The patient said:

“I will never buy any online tea again or any weight loss pills. People should be more aware of what they are buying and the side effects.”

Cases like these are important in the literature, so treating physicians are aware of the potential causes of hepatotoxicity. There have been multiple reports of acute hepatitis in individuals taking weight loss remedies.

So should people avoid green tea?

No, regular green tea has negligible chances of causes liver damage. It is the special teas with weight-loss claims that have been found associated with hepatotoxicity. It is best to use fresh green tea leaves.

Green tea helps suppress lung cancer and improve certain brain functions, so there is no need to abandon it.  

Reference:
– Lugg ST, Braganza Menezes D, Gompertz S. Chinese green tea and acute hepatitis: a rare yet recurring theme. BMJ Case Rep. 2015;2015:bcr2014208534. Published 2015 Sep 23. DOI:10.1136/bcr-2014-208534

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Dr. Arsia Parekh
Dr. Arsia Hanif has been a meritorious Healthcare professional with a proven track record throughout her academic life securing first position in her MCAT examination and then, in 2017, she successfully completed her Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery from Dow University of Health Sciences. She has had the opportunity to apply her theoretical knowledge to the real-life scenarios, as a House Officer (HO) serving at Civil Hospital. Whilst working at the Civil Hospital, she discovered that nothing satisfies her more than helping other humans in need and since then has made a commitment to implement her expertise in the field of medicine to cure the sick and regain the state of health and well-being. Being a Doctor is exactly what you’d think it’s like. She is the colleague at work that everyone wants to know but nobody wants to be. If you want to get something done, you approach her – everyone knows that! She is currently studying with Medical Council of Canada and aspires to be a leading Neurologist someday. Alongside, she has taken up medical writing to exercise her skills of delivering comprehensible version of the otherwise difficult medical literature. Her breaks comprise either of swimming, volunteering services at a Medical Camp or spending time with family.

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