Hot Tea Linked to Esophageal Cancer Risk

Phillip Cunningham
February 7, 2018

The researchers said that people who "drank high-temperature tea, consumed alcohol excessively, and smoked had an oesophageal cancer risk more than 5 times greater than those who had none of these 3 habits".

Frequently drinking very hot liquids, prepared at temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius - which is much hotter than a typical cup of coffee or tea - can increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus, researchers said.

Data were included for 456,155 individuals aged 30 to 79 years who were followed for a median of 9.2 years. In addition, for those who neither smoked nor consumed more than one alcoholic drink a day, there was no elevated risk.

The people who had their tea at hot temperatures while smoking and having alcohol as well had a fivefold increase in their chances of developing esophageal cancer in comparison with other participants who did not do so. In an accompanying editorial, the authors of the study quote the 1930's NY physician WL Watson: "The drinking of copious amount [s] of excessively hot tea is a history frequently obtained from Russian-born patients coming to Memorial Hospital suffering from cancer of the esophagus".

In accordance with the World Cancer Research Foundation Fund International, esophageal cancer is the eight most prevalent types of cancer around the globe. But the IARC did find that hot beverages (at least 149 degrees) "probably" cause cancer of the esophagus.

The researchers identified 1,731 incident esophageal cancer cases during follow-up.

"Of course, keeping away from both tobacco and excessive alcohol use is the most important means for esophageal cancer prevention".


This study shows that drinking very hot tea every day might exacerbate the risks posed by alcohol and tobacco, perhaps by damaging the skin cells so the throat has less protection against the harms they cause.

Yet, drinking hot tea alone was not associated with developing cancer.

Study Rundown: Esophageal cancer is a concern worldwide due to its rising prevalence and poor rates of survival.

Peter F. Goggi, President of the Tea Association of the U.S. released a statement following the findings, pointing to tea's health benefits, including research suggesting it could actually prevent cancer.

'However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favourite beverage.

People were only asked about tea, alcohol and tobacco consumption at the start of the study. It is also by far, the biggest consumer of tea in the world.

While the results may sound alarming, researchers say there is an optimal temperature for your drinks. For the people who find it hard to do so, avoiding burning-tea is the alternative solution.

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