Drinking ‘very hot’ beverages is likely to cause cancer, says WHO

cup of coffee or tea

UN health body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, announced on Wednesday that consuming very hot beverages such as coffee or tea “probably” causes cancer.

The agency said that it is believed the temperature, rather than the substance of the drinks, causes cancer of the oesophagus and becomes a risk once beverages have a temperature above 65 Celsius (150 Fahrenheit). It is thought that such hot beverages could cause a “thermal injury in the throat, which in turn could promote the growth of tumours.

The announcement follows a review by the agency of more than 1,000 scientific studies on whether there is a link between coffee and cancer.

Christopher Wild, agency director, said “These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of oesophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible.”

A spokesperson for the IARC said: “Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate is traditionally drunk very hot at about 70 Celsius (160 Fahrenheit) found that the risk for esophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which beverage was drunk.

“Drinking very hot beverages at above 65C (150 Fahrenheit) was classified as ‘probably’ carcinogenic to humans.”

The IARC does say, however, that serving hot drinks at “normal serving temperatures,” under 65 degrees C (150F) carries no risk.

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