Do Hot Drinks Increase The Risk of Esophageal Cancer?

A report released in 2017 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified drinking hot beverages as carcinogenic. Consuming hot beverage was linked to increasing the risk of esophageal cancer. Hot beverages, in the study, are classified to be on the same level of toxicity as gasoline and exhaust fumes. Who would have thought that these hot beverages we enjoy on a daily basis could be carcinogenic?

While earlier there were speculations on the link between tea, coffee and other beverages with cancer; this report suggests that the real problem is the high temperature at which these beverages are consumed and not the beverages themselves. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer in the world and accounts for approximately 5 percent of cancer related deaths.

Case studies on the link between hot beverages and esophageal cancer

  • According to a research conducted in 2009, recurring thermal injury on the esophagus mucous lining is a risk factor for esophageal cancer. The research suggested that consuming hot drinks burns the esophageal walls, hence the increased risk.
  • In south America, East Africa and Middle East, it was noted that tea is served at about 60 degrees Celsius. While smoking and alcohol are ranked as the top causes of esophageal cancer in America, the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world despite the low rates of smoking. A culture of drinking hot beverages has been linked to the high incidence of esophageal cancer in these parts of the world.
  • Studies conducted in China, Turkey and Iran also found a positive link between consuming hot beverages and increased risk of esophageal cancer. In this parts of the world, tea and leaf fusion mate consumption is rampant. Notably, the beverages are served at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius.

Does this report mean that you should not drink hot beverages? Not necessarily, but the report does suggest that you ease up on the temperature and go for warm instead of hot beverages.

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