If you enjoy a piping hot cup of tea every day, you might want to reconsider your habit. While tea consumption has generally been viewed as healthy, thanks to the antioxidants present in the beverage, a new study has shown a link between drinking hot tea and cancer.
The research focused on 456,155 Chinese adults ages 30 to 79, and was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had cancer, but after researchers followed half of them over the course of nine years, 1,731 people developed esophageal tumors, according to a summary of the study in the Telegraph. They found that people who consumed at least one alcoholic beverage every day, as well as a “burning hot” cup of tea on a daily basis “were five times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than people who drank tea at any temperature less than once a week.” People who smoked were also found to have an increased likelihood of developing cancer.
Smoking and drinking have already been linked to esophageal cancer, but the link to consuming hot tea hadn’t been previously drawn. Studies have shown that “hot liquids and food can cause ‘thermal injury’ which can increase the risk factors associated with cancer” and this research shows that risk to be compounded by daily alcohol consumption.
People in China tend to drink extremely hot tea regularly, whereas it is more common to drink it at lower temperatures, or cooled off by milk, in the West. Nonetheless, approximately 16,940 adults will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer this year in the United States, and about 15,690 people will die from it, according to Cancer.net. The rates of this particular types of cancer are higher in other parts of the world.