Frequently drinking very hot liquids, prepared at temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius - which is much hotter than a typical cup of coffee or tea - can increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus, researchers said. Greater risk for esophageal cancer was found in those who smoke at least one cigarette per day.
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 new tea warning emerged from China, where researchers followed the progress of 456,155 participants aged 30 to 79 for around nine years.
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The authors concluded that those who drank tea less than once a week and consumed less than 15g of of alcohol on a daily basis were far less likely to experience oesophageal cancer.
Similarly, the HR was 2.03 (CI, 1.55 to 2.67) for participants who consumed burning-hot tea daily and were current smokers.
Drinkers of hot tea do not face an increased risk of esophageal cancer, but those who also consume excessive alcohol and smoke have five times higher risk than people who have none of the three habits. Drinking "hot" or "burning hot" tea was not, by itself, a predictor of esophageal cancer, which is good news for tea aficionados.
The main risk factors for oesophageal cancer are smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity and acid reflux.
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In an editorial, Dr Farin Kamangar of the Morgan State University and Dr Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute wrote that the presumption of getting cancer due to taking hot tea has the roots in 1930's. They can abstain from drinking hot tea to prevent esophageal cancer or quit smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol also increase cancer risk.
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.
The researchers monitored the health of participants in the study, whose aim is to collect data on the development of chronic diseases - including heart diseases, cancer, and - in China. Milk or tea first?
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