According to new research, drinking very hot tea can boost the risk of esophageal cancer by a significant amount. Researchers also found that the highest risk group includes smokers and heavy drinkers.
Nevertheless, even non-smokers and those that don’t like alcohol have a higher risk of developing the cancer if their tea is too hot. Researchers plan to conduct a follow-up study to assess the true risks of the habit.
Chinese scientists at the Peking University Health Science Center reported that tea that was heated over 149F (65C) was linked to a five-fold higher risk of causing cancer in heavy drinkers and smokers. The research team explained that the hot drink causes “thermal injury” to the lining of the esophagus whose role is to keep harmful chemicals from cigarette smoke and alcohol at bay.
Scientists noted that not all people that drink hot tea get cancer, as long as the beverage is heated below 149F. The study revealed that steamy hot tea and other hot drinks harm the pipe that unites the throat with the stomach, aka the gullet.
Men Have Higher Risk of Esophageal Cancer
Men have a higher risk of esophageal cancer than women, and the risk multiplies as people enter their 60s and 70s. This type of cancer doesn’t display any symptoms in its early stages, which makes it hard to detect.
When the tumor grows large enough, symptoms like heartburn, appetite loss, repeated indigestion, pain in the upper chest or back, and weight loss appear. Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:
- unhealthy diets,
- alcohol abuse,
- untreated heartburn,
- and drinking hot tea seems to have just made it to the list.
Lead author Dr Jun Lv said that people usually consume their tea at high temperatures, but very hot tea can cause chronic thermal injury to the esophagus’ lining which can lead to cancer. Dr. Jun, though, also said the link between drinking hot tea and cancer is “inconclusive,” so more research needs to be done.
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