Do you like drinking hot tea? You may have a higher risk of suffering from cancer of the esophagus. Here’s why.
Across the world, including in various African countries, drinking hot beverages, especially tea and coffee, have become a major part of the morning routine of many individuals as coffee brands such as Starbucks generate billions of dollars as revenue in the hot beverage sub-sector.
But a new study has shown that a significant number of individuals that daily consume hot beverages have a significantly high risk of developing esophageal cancer which is cancer of esophagus. The esophagus is a very important aspect of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) which makes up the digestive system that among others, is involved in the transportation and digestion of food substances.
According to the new study that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea was associated with a two- to five-fold increase in esophageal cancer among individuals that smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol daily.
While this was observed in individuals that smoke or drink alcohol, it is still recommended that hot beverage consumers should consider letting the tea or coffee cool before being taken.
Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world and is often fatal, killing approximately 400,000 people every year, according to theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer. It is usually caused by repeated injury to the esophagus due to smoke, alcohol, acid reflux and — maybe — hot liquids.
The study, the largest of its kind, followed close to 500,000 adults in China over an average of 9½ years. Because of the large size, it may set the bar for years to come, according toNeal Freedman, senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the new research.
CNNreported that participants who drank tea on a weekly basis were asked to describe its temperature as “warm,” “hot” “or “burning hot.” Drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea was not, by itself, a predictor of esophageal cancer, which is good news for tea aficionados.
However, for people who smoked tobacco or drank alcohol — both of which are known to cause esophageal cancer — drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea made their risk of cancer even higher, according to Jun Lv, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Peking University and a lead author on the study.
“Drinking hot tea contributed to cancer only when it clustered with smoking and drinking alcohol excessively,” Lv said.
The researchers collected information about tobacco and alcohol consumption at the beginning of the study. “Excessive alcohol consumption” was defined as 15 grams or more of alcohol per day — slightly more than that found in a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits. Tobacco use was defined as one or more cigarettes per day.
Freedman said very hot drinks could make the esophagus more vulnerable to known cancer-causing agents such as alcohol and smoke.
“Irritating the lining of the esophagus could lead to increased inflammation and more rapid turnover of the cells,” he said. “Alternatively, hot liquids may impair the barrier function of the cells lining the esophagus, leaving the tissue open to greater damage from other carcinogens.”
“Of course, keeping away from both tobacco and excessive alcohol use is the most important means for esophageal cancer prevention,” Lv concluded.