Both men and women produce androgen, the dominant male hormone, but in differing amounts. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, often have high androgen levels. High androgen levels in PCOS can increase your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease and cause increased hairiness, acne, abdominal weight gain and male-pattern hair loss. Green tea might have some benefit in lowering high androgen levels, although this has not been conclusively proven. Talk to your doctor before making significant dietary changes.
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Green Tea Ingredients
Green tea, made from the unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, contains a number of potentially potent substances. Black tea and green tea both contain polyphenols, antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage by removing free radicals, unpaired electrons that damage cell DNA. Green tea contains higher levels of polyphenols. The polyphenols in tea, called catechins, include catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin gallate. Epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG, might affect androgen levels.
Androgens in Women
Both men and women produce hormones considered as predominantly male or female, such as estrogen or testosterone, the dominant androgen produced by men. Your ovaries and adrenal glands produce most of the testosterone in your body; tumors of the adrenal gland and polycystic ovary syndrome are the most common causes of androgen excess in women. Androgen causes abnormal hair-growth patterns, virilization of female sex organs -- when male characteristics become prominent in a female -- and accumulation of abdominal fat that can lead to metabolic syndrome. Diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure often occur with metabolic syndrome. Androgen excess is the leading cause of infertility from anovulation -- a condition in which your ovary does not release an egg -- according to an article in the September 2000 issue of "American Family Physician."
Studies on the effects of green tea and androgen levels have mostly looked at the risk of hormone-dependent tumors. An article published in the December 2001 issue of the "Hong Kong Medical Journal" states that epigallocatechin-3-gallate can modulate the production and effects of androgens and other hormones.
Laboratory and animal studies don't always translate into human benefits. The amounts of epigallocatechin-3-gallate in green tea might not be significant enough to have noticeable health benefits against high androgen levels. While green tea probably won't hurt and could possibly help, see your doctor for proven treatments for high androgen levels, such as birth control pills or weight loss and exercise.