Hot tea consumption increases risk of cancer for drinkers and smokers

Hot tea ups esophageal cancer risk in smokers drinkers

The new study done by scientists in found drinking tea heated to over 65C (149F) was associated with a five-fold increased risk for esophageal cancer when combined with excessive drinking or heavy smoking.

Almost 500,000 people between the ages of 30 and 79 monitored their smoke, alcohol and tea consumption over a nine-month period. In comparison to participants who consumed tea less than weekly and drank less than 15 g of alcohol per day, participants who consumed burning-hot tea and at least 15 g of alcohol per day had the highest esophageal cancer risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 5.00 [95% CI, 3.64 to 6.88]).

According to the research, tea drinkers who had more than one daily alcoholic drink (glass of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor) had a 12 percent more chance of getting cancer.

Now, the Chinese researchers have found that the association between the hot tea drinking and esophageal cancer risk is "dependent on alcohol and tobacco consumption" habits. The risk of this cancer is more in men than women.

"Of course, keeping away from both tobacco and excessive alcohol use is the most important means for oesophageal cancer prevention".

This study shows that drinking very hot tea every day might exacerbate the risks posed by alcohol and tobacco, perhaps by damaging the skin cells so the throat has less protection against the harms they cause.

Participants in the study reported whether they enjoyed drinking tea at "warm/room temperature", "hot" or "burning hot".

"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.

It may be noted that China has a high number of oesophagal cancer patients. "However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favourite beverages". It is also by far, the biggest consumer of tea in the world.

At the beginning of the study, the people completed a lifestyle questionnaire that asked how frequently they consumed tea, how much they consumed, how they prepared the beverage and which type of tea they drank. These three factors could "complicate" the risks for developing this disease.

The researchers' conclusion that people who smoke and drink excessively might want to cut out hot tea seems odd. It is better to give up on smoking/drinking.

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