I was browsing the news the other day when I came across an article titled “Too Much Tea Causes Unusual Bone Disease.” As someone who drinks tea, I was curious. Really? Tea? I thought tea was supposed to be good for you? Will drinking a mug of chamomile cause me to get sick instead of providing relaxation?
I clicked on the article, and underneath a dramatic X-Ray image of bones that are apparently “very dense” I read the following:
A 47-year-old Michigan woman developed a bone disease rarely seen in the U.S. after she drank a pitcher of tea made from at least 100 tea bags daily, for 17 years, researchers report.
100 bags of tea in one pitcher. While “too much tea” does technically describe what happened, it doesn’t really specify that it isn’t your daily cup of jasmine tea that will make you sick. It’s more so suggesting that brewing a tea that’s 15 times stronger than normal, and ingesting that amount daily for 17 years, might cause dense bones. But really, isn’t there a danger with eating or drinking too much of anything? Even drinking too much water can cause water poisoning.
Read a little further in the article and it says:
The researchers suspected the woman had skeletal fluorosis, a bone disease caused by consuming too much fluoride (a mineral found in tea as well as drinking water).
Wait a second – the bone disease this woman suffered from was caused by fluoride? The chemical that is added to drinking water and toothpaste? How can you blame only the tea (although seriously, 100 bags of tea in one pitcher just screams “did not follow directions”) if the chemical that caused the teas was also found in the water she was drinking.
Then, as if to drive the mis-information even further to the point, the article ends with:
Pass it on: A 47-year-old U.S. woman developed a bone disease after drinking a pitcher of tea a day for 17 years.
This is exactly how medical rumors get started. Anyone remember that “carrots cause cancer“?
Tomorrow, hundreds, maybe thousands of people will be at the office saying, “I read that drinking tea can cause bone disease. This woman drank a pitcher of tea a day for 17 years and got sick.” When in reality, drinking a pitcher of properly brewed tea will probably have no effect on you at all. (Although who knows, maybe it will. Just don’t brew it with 100 bags of tea and drink it every day for 17 years. And make sure it’s de-caf. That much caffeine probably isn’t good for anyone.)