Drinking Hot Tea Increases Esophageal Cancer Risk, Study Finds

An expert panel assembled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2016 classified drinking very hot beverages as a probable (class 2A) carcinogen rather than a definite (class 1) carcinogen.

So the study set out to examine whether high-temperature tea drinking, along with the established risk factors of alcohol consumption and smoking, was associated with oesophageal cancer risk.

The ages of the participants ranged between 30 and 79 years old.

"Drinking hot tea contributed to cancer only when it clustered with smoking and drinking alcohol excessively", Lv said. The Annals of Internal Medicine researchers said their participants did not measure the exact temperature of tea, but were asked to describe the consumption levels as hot, warm, or burning hot.

It found those who like their drinks piping were five times more likely to get oesophageal cancer - or gullet cancer - if they also enjoyed alcohol and smoked.

Taking hot tea, smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol increase risk of getting cancer rapidly. However, previous research has suggested that drinking hot beverages at temperatures above 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) could lead to esophageal cancer.

"However, in the absence of both excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, daily tea drinking was not associated with oesophageal cancer risk, regardless of tea temperature".

However, the study is not without limitations.

They said: "Abstaining from hot tea might be beneficial for preventing oesophageal cancer in persons who drink alcohol excessively or smoke". "However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favourite beverages". Only some of the studies in the review took alcohol and tobacco use into account. This cohort study of 456 155 participants based in China had a median follow-up of 9.2 years.

The reports about alcohol, tobacco and tea consumption weren't independently verified. For the people who find it hard to do so, avoiding burning-tea is the alternative solution.

In comparison, boozers and smokers risk was just 2.5 times higher if they stuck to cooler drinks.

As several experts have commented, most oesophageal cancers in the United Kingdom are adenocarcinoma rather than squamous cell. It is also by far, the biggest consumer of tea in the world.

The team suggests people be more careful of the temperature of their cup of tea especially if they smoke or drink regularly.

  • Delores Daniels