Some like it hot — but let that steaming cup of tea cool off before sipping if you smoke cigarettes or consume more than one alcoholic beverage a day.
According to a study by Chinese researchers, the Annals of Internal Medicine warns that drinking tea at very high temperatures — “hot” or “burning hot” — is “associated with an increased risk for esophageal cancer when combined with excessive alcohol or tobacco use.”
Tobacco and alcohol are known risk factors for cancer of the esophagus — the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. The ten-year Chinese study factored in tea drinking. Participants included 450,000 people aged 30 to 79 across ten different regions in China.
Subjects who reported drinking hot or burning hot tea every day and who also drank more than one alcoholic beverage daily had a 127% increased risk of esophageal cancer. Daily tea drinkers who consumed it at a hot or burning hot temperature and smoked had a 56% higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Participants who drank very hot tea, smoked and consumed more than one alcoholic beverage a day raised their risk of esophageal cancer five five times than people who didn’t do any of these things.
“Our findings show a noticeable increase in esophageal cancer risk associated with a combination of high-temperature tea drinking, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking,” the research team noted.
The new study follows a 2016 World Health Organization study reporting that “very hot” liquids — in excess of 149 degrees Fahrenheit (water boils at 212 degrees) — are “probably” carcinogenic. The temperature, not the beverage itself, is the key to what is harmful, the study noted.