Hot tea, combined with heavy smoking and alcohol use, increases cancer risk

Feb 06, 2018, 14:17
Hot tea, combined with heavy smoking and alcohol use, increases cancer risk

"Compared with participants who drank tea less than weekly and consumed fewer than 15g of alcohol daily, those who drank burning hot tea and 15g or more of alcohol daily had the greatest risk for oesophageal cancer", they write in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Although the exact mechanism is not known, research has suggested that frequently consuming scalding liquids may result in long-term injury to the cells lining the oesophagus, said Jun Lv, an epidemiologist at Peking University in China.

The team found that high-temperature drinking, combined with alcohol consumption raised the risk five times, while smokers who drank hot drinks daily doubled their risk.

The authors followed 456,155 participants aged 30 to 79 for a media follow-up period of 9.2 years.

Dr. Lv said that the study found a link between hot tea and increased oesophagal cancer risk. Also the International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization reports the same.

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".

'That said, there may be individuals out there who do drink very hot tea (with excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption as well) and hence might be more at risk of developing this cancer'. There was no connection between non-smokers and hot tea in terms of cancer.

It may be noted that China has a high number of oesophagal cancer patients.

While this is one of the largest studies of its type, it did not ask participants to measure the exact temperature of their daily cup of tea, instead asking participants to select from the four categories of room temperature, or warm, hot or burning hot.

China: Do you take hot tea? The team monitored their habits of smoking and drinking tea and alcohol.

The researchers collected information about tobacco and alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study.

"People probably do not estimate their tea temperature perfectly, and this is one of the main limitations of the study", said Neal Freedman, author of an accompanying editorial and a researcher with the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. During the study, 1,731 people developed esophageal tumors.

It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK according to 2014 figures from Cancer Research UK.