Drinking Hot Tea Associated With 5-Fold Increased Risk for Esophageal Cancer

Drinking Hot Tea Associated With 5-Fold Increased Risk for Esophageal Cancer

Ronald Pratt
February 7, 2018

During the study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine researchers found that a person, who smokes or drinks more than one alcoholic beverage a day, could be at a higher risk of esophageal cancer development.

"In the absence of both excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, daily hot tea drinking was not associated with esophageal cancer risk, regardless of the tea temperature and other consumption measures", the Chinese team said, describing their findings in the United States research journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that people who drank tea less than a week and consumed fewer than 15 grams of alcohol daily had a lower risk of developer cancer than those who drank more than 15 grams of alcohol and burning-hot tea.

"In the "high risk" group - those who drink moderate to high amounts of alcohol and also smoke - drinking hot tea daily about doubled their risk".

Consumption of hot tea, especially for smokers and heavy drinkers can be risky as it increases the risk of esophageal cancer, the Daily Mail reported. The ten-year Chinese study factored in tea drinking.

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For smokers, drinking burning hot tea increased the risk of cancer by 53%, compared with smokers who drank tea less than once a week (HR 1.53, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.03). But the IARC did find that hot beverages (at least 149 degrees) "probably" cause cancer of the esophagus. China is among the countries with the highest esophageal cancer incidence. There are two types of esophageal cancer; adenocarcinomas, where the cancer starts in the gland cells that make mucus, and squamous cell carcinoma, starting in the squamous cells that line the esophagus, which is the most common.

Hot tea is a staple beverage in winter time; it can help to keep us warm and soothe sore throats.

"However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favorite beverage", Dr. Kamminger wrote. This cohort study of 456 155 participants based in China had a median follow-up of 9.2 years. It is also by far, the biggest consumer of tea in the world.

The researchers' conclusion that people who smoke and drink excessively might want to cut out hot tea seems odd. The editorial also said that most people drink their tea and coffee at temperatures that aren't likely to cause cancer. For the people who find it hard to do so, avoiding burning-tea is the alternative solution.