Drinking tea at high temperatures greatly increases risk of cancer

Some experts believe the correlative risk has very little to do with the type of beverage consumed and much more to do with the heat factor.

A new study published in the International Journal Of Cancer conducted on over 50,000 participants linked drinking more than two large piping hot cups of tea a day – exceeding 700 ml and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) respectively – is associated with a staggering 90% risk increase for developing esophageal cancer compared to those that wait for their beverage to cool down first.

A few things to clear up before we explore the circumstances of the study. First, it’s important to note that some experts believe the correlative risk observed in the International Journal Of Cancer’s report has very little to do with the type of beverage consumed and much more to do with the heat factor.


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Secondly, to put it in perspective, a study published back in 2007 revealed that hot beverages, like coffee, tea, hot chocolate etc., are typically served between 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 Celsius) and 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius).

That very same study is punctuated with a thermal recommendation based on both taste and injury in mind, concluding that 136 F (57.8 C) to be the ticket: “The analysis points to a reduction in the presently recommended serving temperature of coffee to achieve the combined result of reducing the scald burn hazard and improving customer satisfaction.”

The study

The correlation that couples hot tea and ESCC has been previously reported, but this new study reveals the specific temperature at which the risk for esophageal cancer begins to increase.

Just over 50,000 individuals from Golestan of northeastern Iran,  between the age of 40 and 75, were observed from 2004 to 2017. Each individual was surveyed regarding their standard preferred drinking temperature for tea – measured objectively via the time between pouring piping hot tea and consumption of it.

In that time, 317 new cases of esophageal cancer emerged. Those that preferred to drink their tea hotter expressed an undeniable link to ESCC.

The study explains: “An analysis of the combined effects of measured temperature and amount, compared to those who drank less than 700 ml of tea/day at <60°C, drinking 700 mL/day or more at a higher‐temperature (≥60°C) was consistently associated with an about 90% increase in ESCC risk. Our results substantially strengthen the existing evidence supporting an association between hot beverage drinking and ESCC.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.