Drinking hot tea nearly doubles risk of cancer, says new report

People who like to drink their tea piping hot have a greater risk of getting oesophageal cancer, according to a new report.

Researchers found that people who like to consume their tea above 60 degrees Celsius and drink about 700ml of tea per day had a 90% risk of oesophageal cancer when compared to those who drank less tea and at cooler temperatures.

The study which was reported on Cable News Network (CNN) and published in the Journal of Cancer looked at more than 50,000 people in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran.

The study’s lead author, Dr Farhad Islami, of the American Cancer Society, said, “Many people enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. However, according to our report, drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of oesophageal cancer, and it is, therefore, advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking.”

Previous studies have shown a link between hot tea drinking and oesophageal cancer but this study is the first to pinpoint a certain temperature, according to the study’s authors.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and is often fatal, killing approximately 400,000 people every year, usually caused by repeated injury to the oesophagus due to smoke, alcohol, acid reflux and – maybe – hot liquids.

The oesophagus is a long tube through which swallowed food and liquids travel to reach the stomach.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 13,750 new cases of oesophageal cancer will be diagnosed in men and 3,900 new cases in women in the United States in 2019.

The researchers studied 50,045 people, between the ages of 40 and 75, for an average of 10 years, between 2004 and 2017. In that period, 317 people out of the study group developed oesophageal cancer.

The study authors, however, said that more research was needed on why drinking very hot tea could be associated with the higher risk of esophageal cancer.

A professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Stephen Evans, said it was the heat that was the issue rather than the type of beverage.

“It is probably anything hot; microwaved jam has been known to cause oesophageal injury. It is possible that the trauma leads to cell changes and hence to cancer,” Evans said.

A senior research associate at the University College London, James Doidge, added that hot drinks were an established risk factor for esophageal cancer.

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