Hot tea linked to esophageal cancer in smokers, drinkers

Hot tea linked to esophageal cancer in smokers, drinkers

"If you do frequently drink extremely hot tea, maybe this study should persuade you that it might be worth reconsidering that habit - but you'd probably do a lot more to reduce your risk of oesophageal cancer by giving up smoking and not drinking too much alcohol".

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. The study, published by Annals of Internal Medicine, states that its results show "hot" or "burning hot" tea is linked to an increase in esophageal cancer in heavy smokers and heavy drinkers.

Esophageal cancer kills approximately 400,000 people every year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cancer research arm of the World Health Organization. A limitation of the study includes the use of self-reported data for tea consumption that was taken only at baseline, which may have led to misclassification of exposure and weakening of the association.

The Tea Council of the US said in a statement that the health benefits of tea outweigh the possible risks.

While the results may sound alarming, researchers say there is an optimal temperature for your drinks.

Researchers excluded people who'd reduced their tea or alcohol consumption or stopped smoking in the 6 months before the study started.

A total of 1,731 esophageal cancer cases were documented in the study.

The Chinese scientists the link was "biologically plausible" as thermal injury caused by the hot tea to the gullet lining impairing its ability to act as a barrier to harmful toxins from alcohol and smoking.

Tobacco and alcohol are known risk factors for cancer of the esophagus - the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.

Of the 456,155 people in the study, 42% of the men and 16% of the women drank tea daily. In people who didn't have those two vices, however, drinking tea did not seem to have a significant effect on cancer development. In addition, for those who neither smoked nor consumed more than one alcoholic drink a day, there was no elevated risk. Researchers followed half of the participants for at least 9 years.

The researchers collected information about tobacco and alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study. Drinking tea is unlikely to be the biggest of their health problems.

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