Arthritis Today, 2008; 22(1):55.
Do you drink tea to excess? If so, you could be harming - not helping - your bones. Tea, touted as a great source of antioxidants has been shown to reduce inflammation. And the news gets better: A recent study showed that drinkers of black and green (but not herbal) tea have higher bone density than non-tea drinkers. But drink too much, and the tea party may be over.
Tea - hot or cold, decaf or regular - contains fluoride, and a new report from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., shows that compulsively drinking tea could lead to toxic serum fluoride levels and a painful bone condition. People in the study drank far more than most people do - from 10 to 40 cups per day. But other studies show the effect on bones may start with as few as four cups per day.
Whereas normal amounts of fluoride may increase bone density, too much can cause pain in the hips and legs, stress fractures, nausea and weight loss, as well as osteosclerosis - a condition in which bones become too dense.
So drink tea - It’s good for you - but do so in moderation. And if you experience unexplained pain in your back or lower extremities, take a look at your tea consumption, and then talk to your doctor.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Vol. 86, No. 4
and Mayo Clinic Proceedings; Vol. 82, No. 6
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Here's a link to the full paper from the Mayo Clinic as well as the abstract.Fluoride-Related Bone Disease Associated With Habitual Tea ConsumptionMayo Clin Proc. 2007;82:719-724
Acquired osteosclerosis is a rare disorder of bone formation but an important consideration in adults with sclerotic bones or elevated bone density results. In such patients, malignancy, hepatitis C, and fluorosis should all be considered when making a diagnosis. We describe 4 patients evaluated at our Metabolic Bone Disease Clinic from May 1, 1997, to July 1, 2006, whose bone disorders resulted from chronic fluoride exposure due to excessive tea intake. Three of these patients had toxic serum fluoride levels (>15 μmol/L). Although the clinical presentation of the patients varied, all 4 had an unexpectedly elevated spine bone mineral density that was proportionately higher than the bone mineral density at the hip. Other clinical features included gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and weight loss; lower extremity pain sometimes associated with stress fractures of the lower extremities; renal insufficiency; and elevated alkaline phosphatase levels. Readily available, tea often contains high levels of fluoride. Obsessive-compulsive drinking behaviors and renal insufficiency may predispose to excessive fluoride consumption and accumulation. The current cases show that fluoride-related bone disease is an important clinical consideration in patients with dense bones or gastrointestinal symptoms and a history of excessive tea consumption. Furthermore, fluoride excess should be considered in all patients with a history of excessive tea consumption, especially due to its insidious nature and nonspecific clinical presentation.