Many people start their day with a cup of tea. But those who drink it piping hot could be increasing their risk of esophageal cancer, according to a new study.
The study looked at more than 50,000 people in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran. Researchers found that tea drinkers who liked their beverage to be warmer than 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and consumed more than 700 ml of tea per day — about two large cups– had a 90% higher risk of esophageal cancer, when compared to those who drank less tea and at cooler temperatures.
“Many people enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. However, according to our report, drinking very hot tea can increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and it is therefore advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking,” said Dr. Farhad Islami, of the American Cancer Society .
Esophagel Cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and is often fatal, killing approximately 400,000 people every year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is usually caused by repeated injury to the esophagus due to smoke, alcohol, acid reflux and — maybe — hot liquids.
The esophagus 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 esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in men and 3,900 new cases in women in the United States in 2019.
The team of researchers followed 50,045 people, aged between 40 and 75, for an average of 10 years. Between 2004 and 2017, the researchers detected 317 new cases of esophageal cancer. The study said more research was needed on why exactly drinking very hot tea is associated with the higher risk of esophageal cancer
“In fact, it is probably anything hot: Microwaved jam has been known to cause esophageal injury. It is possible that the trauma leads to cell changes and hence to cancer,” he told the Science Media Centre. Evans was not involved in the study.
In the United States and Europe, tea is rarely consumed at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) — but in places like Russia, Iran, Turkey and South America, it is common to drink tea that hot or even hotter.
- It’s the temperature not the type of beverage that poses a threat, although Islami noted that more research needs to be done on why hot beverages can cause cancer.
- He said chronic thermal injury could cause inflammation that could lead to cancer or make it easier for carcinogens ingested through food or drink to penetrate the esophageal lining.
- Previous studies have examined the link between hot beverages and cancer, including a 2018 China-based study published in Annals of Internal Medicine that found drinking hot tea, when combined with heavy alcohol and tobacco use, significantly increases the risk of esophageal cancer.
- As there is no known health benefit from drinking very hot beverages, it will be reasonable to advise people throughout the world to wait for their hot beverages to cool down before drinking,” the study concluded.