Health Care

Here's How Drinking Hot Tea Could Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Here's How Drinking Hot Tea Could Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Combined with excess alcohol consumption, hot tea causes a five-fold increase in the risk of developing oesophageal cancer, a Chinese study of nearly half a million people found. However, the increasing data suggesting that hot tea may increase the risk of esophageal cancer should prompt smokers and drinkers to wait until their drink cools down before taking a sip.

Drinking hot tea or coffee, when combined with tobacco and alcohol use, could increase the risk of oesophageal cancer, according to a Chinese study with more than 450,000 participants.

Experts in Britain, a country where tea consumption is traditionally high, have shown that in the West in general people usually drink their tea at lower temperatures than in Asia, resulting in less damage to their esophagus. The risk of this cancer is more in men than women.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer defined scalding beverages as hotter than 65 °C and warned they were "probably carcinogenic to humans".

Smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol both raise your risk for developing esophageal cancer, which affects the tube connecting the throat to the stomach. It is often caused by repeated injury to the esophagus because of smoke, alcohol, acid reflux, and possibly hot liquids as suggested by the new study.

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

China's esophageal cancer rate is among the highest worldwide. They questioned the study participants about their tea, alcohol and smokng patterns and followed them up for incidence of esophageal cancer up to 2015.

Prof Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University, said: "In the United Kingdom most people seem not to drink their tea almost that hot, and it would be hard to get it that hot if you put milk in it, as many people do here". "Despite this study's rigorous design and careful analysis, its results are observational and may still reflect confounding by other factors and chance", the authors write.

The study was conducted in China and surveyed approximately 500,000 adults over the course of 9 years. Researchers in China say this is one of the largest studies of its kind.

For example, for those who drank more than 15g of alcohol a week, there were around 1.2 cancers per 1,000 people per year, rising to 1.7 per 1,000 for those who drank burning hot tea. It is also by far, the biggest consumer of tea in the world.