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07 February 2018, 01:29 | Audrey Hill
Very Hot Tea Can Cause Esophageal Cancer, Especially In Smokers And Alcohol Abusers
Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption - both of which are known to cause esophageal cancer - as well as the chemical compounds and adverse thermal effect of hot tea, considerably complicate the association between tea drinking and cancer risk, the study suggests.
Those who engaged in all three of these habits showed a fivefold increase in the risk for this type of cancer compared with their peers who did not drink tea at high temperatures, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes.
Lead researcher Dr Jun Lv said, "these findings suggest for oesophageal cancer prevention, it is important to abstain from high-temperature tea if you are an alcohol consumer and smoker".
And smokers who also drink hot tea double their risk, say the researchers.
They selected 456,155 people aged 30 to 79 who didn't have cancer at the start of the study.
People who smoke regularly and drink burning hot tea were also twice as likely to develop the disease. People who only drank hot tea did not see a significant increase in cancer risk. But the IARC did find that hot beverages (at least 149 degrees) "probably" cause cancer of the esophagus. They questioned the study participants about their tea, alcohol and smokng patterns and followed them up for incidence of esophageal cancer up to 2015.
"Drinking tea at a lower temperature should not be considered as a replacement for smoking cessation and limiting alcohol intake", Freedman said by email.
The study was only observational, so a cause-and-effect link can not be determined. We don't know if they changed their habits over the course of 9 years of follow-up. Only some of the studies in the review took alcohol and tobacco use into account. The independent link between near-boiling tea and esophageal tumors is not yet clear.
Similarly, the temperature of the tea wasn't checked - researchers relied on people saying whether they usually drank tea warm, hot or burning hot. For the people who find it hard to do so, avoiding burning-tea is the alternative solution.
As several experts have commented, most oesophageal cancers in the United Kingdom are adenocarcinoma rather than squamous cell. Drinking tea is unlikely to be the biggest of their health problems.
Researchers also warned that non-drinkers and non-smokers have a higher risk but some more tests are needed to analyze the effects. It is better to give up on smoking/drinking.
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