If you smoke and drink every single day, you probably want to avoid burning hot tea.
According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking hot tea (on top of smoking and drinking daily) can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
“Although consumption of tea at high-temperatures has been suggested as a risk factor for esophageal cancer, an association has not been observed consistently, and whether any relationship is independent of alcohol and tobacco exposure has not been evaluated,” authors wrote about the study.
To conduct the research, authors looked at tea drinking habits of 456,155 people in China between the ages of 30 and 79. Participants were asked to describe the temperature (warm, hot or burning hot) of the teas they were drinking on a weekly basis, CNN reports.
During a follow-up period of 9.2 years, there were a total of 1,731 cases of esophageal cancer.
“Compared with participants who drank tea less than weekly and consumed fewer than 15 grams of alcohol daily, those who drank burning hot tea and 15 grams or more of alcohol daily had the greatest risk for esophageal cancer,” authors concluded.
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Fifteen grams of alcohol is a bit more than a 12-ounce glass of beer.
According to a statement from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), it’s just not tea people should avoid at extremely high temperatures.
“Research shows that people who drink very hot coffee, tea, maté and other beverages [hotter than 65 Celsius] have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma. The CCS suggests that hot drinks are consumed at a temperature below 65 C and to let hot drinks cool down for a few minutes before taking a sip.”
Esophageal cancer is cancerous or malignant tumour that starts in cells of the esophagus, the CCS notes. The most common types of this cancer are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
“Cells in the esophagus sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. These changes may lead to non-cancerous, or benign, conditions such as cysts or esophageal webs and rings. They can also lead to non-cancerous tumours such as leiomyomas,” the society notes.
Tobacco and alcohol are known risk factors. “Using any kind of tobacco has been linked to the development of esophageal cancer. Tobacco use combined with drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer more than either risk factor alone,” the society notes.
And when it comes to signs and symptoms, esophageal cancer may not cause any in the early stages because of the way it develops in the body.
Symptoms can appear when the cancer grows, and can include weight loss, painful swallowing, pain in the throat or heartburn.
Treatment options include surgery, drugs or radiation therapy.