Drinking extremely hot coffee or tea could double the risk of developing tumors in the esophagus, research shows. People who tend to have tea or coffee at 60°C (140°F) or higher have 90% higher risk of getting gullet cancer.
Instead of consuming beverages which are piping hot, it is best to let the beverage cool down for a couple of minutes before consuming. According to DailyMail, the study was conducted by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences located in Iran. According to scientists, boiling water can irritate and agitate the lining of mouth and throat which can result in tumors. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cause of cancer across the globe.
The researchers revealed that their findings, which have been based on tea consumption, also apply to other hot beverages which include coffee and hot chocolate. The research was published in the International Journal of Cancer which observed the consumption habits of around 50,045 people who were aged between 40 and 75 living in north-eastern Iran. The research was led by Dr. Farhad Islami who said that the results "substantially strengthen" the existing evidence which links hot drinks and esophageal cancer.
They further added that there were several mechanisms which could explain the link between drinking hot drinks and cancer of the esophagus. The heat from the drink could injure the gullet which would lead to inflammation which could damage DNA and also fuel production of carcinogenic chemicals. The heat could also prevent the gullet's ability to act as a barrier and stop harmful toxins from alcohol as well as smoking.
This kind of cancer tends to affect people in their 60s and 70s and is much more common in men than women. Symptoms of esophageal cancer include difficulties in swallowing, persistent indigestion or heartburn, bringing up food soon after eating, a loss of appetite and weight loss.
Dr. Islami shared, "To our knowledge, this is the only large-scale prospective study in the world in which actual tea drinking temperature has been measured by trained staff. It may thus be a reasonable public-health measure to extrapolate these results to all types of beverages, and to advise the public to wait for beverages to cool to under 60°C before consumption."
In 2016, the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation called the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had classified drinking beverages above 65°C as carcinogenic. In China, Iran, Turkey, and South America, tea is traditionally drunk very hot which is about 70°C (158°F). However, according to charity Cancer Research UK, most Brits do not drink tea or coffee at high temperatures.
A health information officer at Cancer Research UK, George Hill, shared, "This study adds to the evidence that having drinks hotter than 60°C may increase the risk of esophageal cancer, but most people in the UK don't drink their tea at such high temperatures. As long you're letting your tea cool down a bit before you drink it, or adding cold milk, you're unlikely to be raising your cancer risk — and not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and cutting down on alcohol will do much more to stack the odds in your favor."