Ingesting scorching tea 'will increase threat of esophageal most cancers'

Bryan Strickland
February 7, 2018

"The Tea Council of the United States of America confidently reiterates that tea is associated with more health benefits than harm - but that alcohol and tobacco appear to remain risk factors for esophageal cancer", Goggi said in a statement.

The cancer affects the gullet, the food pipe from the throat to the stomach, mainly in people in their 60s and 70s with men more at risk than women. 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".

Public health researcher Jun Lv and her colleagues in Beijing tracked 456,155 persons between the ages of 30 and 79 years from 10 regions across China between 2004 and 2008. The thought is that very hot liquids could make the esophagus more vulnerable to cancer-causing things like alcohol and smoke.

"It's important to abstain from high-temperature tea in excessive alcohol consumers and smokers for esophageal cancer prevention", Lv said.

Compared with participants who drank tea less than weekly and consumed fewer than 15 g of alcohol daily, those who drank burning-hot tea and 15 g or more of alcohol daily had the greatest risk for esophageal cancer.

The hypothesis that drinking very hot beverages may cause esophageal cancer has been around since the 1930s, they note. Do you like a classic builder's with enough sugar to stand a spoon up in or a mug of warm milk that has just been kissed by a tea bag.

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Which is the optimal temperature for consumption?

Another limitation is that study participants reported on their own smoking and drinking habits, and their reports could be unreliable.

The study was only observational, so a cause-and-effect link can not be determined. Only some of the studies in the review took alcohol and tobacco use into account. They were under study for more than 9 years.

It's not clear whether these results apply to the UK. These three factors could "complicate" the risks for developing this disease.

The team suggests people be more careful of the temperature of their cup of tea especially if they smoke or drink regularly. Drinking tea is unlikely to be the biggest of their health problems.

People would be far better advised to stop smoking and drink less alcohol to avoid the many risks that these habits carry.

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