A new study says people who drink tea piping hot may be increasing their risk of esophageal cancer.
The Researchers found that tea drinkers who liked their beverage to be warmer than 60 degrees Celsius and consumed more than 700 ml of tea per day had a 90 per cent risk of esophageal cancer when compared to those who drank less tea and at cooler temperatures.
The study published in the International 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 esophageal cancer, and it is, therefore, advisable to wait until hot beverages cool down before drinking.”
Previous researches found a link between hot tea drinking and esophageal cancer but the new study is the first to pinpoint a specific temperature, according to the authors.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says esophageal 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 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 researchers followed 50,045 people, aged between 40 and 75, for an average of 10 years between 2004 and 2017. They detected 317 new cases of esophageal cancer during the period.
The study authors, however, said more research was needed on why drinking very hot tea could have 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 esophageal 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.