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Drinking hot tea can contribute to risk of cancer, studies show

09 February 2018 08:59



A new study suggests that drinking hot tea may have serious negative consequences for our health, despite being a daily staple for many people.

Tea-drinking is often considered beneficial to the drinker's health, due to the antioxidant effects of compounds such as polyphenols - but a recent study from Peking University in Beijing warns that the high temperatures at which tea is consumed are detrimental to health.

Correlation with oesophageal cancer

Doctorate student from the university's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Jun Lv, who led the study, found that the consumption of very hot tea correlates with the onset of oesophageal cancer.

Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer worldwide, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Lv and colleagues found that consuming hot tea on a regular basis is linked to oesophageal cancer in people who drink and smoke habitually. The study was undertaken as part of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the National Key Research and Development Program.

The findings have been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Fivefold increase

Lv and the team of researchers found that China - the number one consumer of tea - is the country with one of the highest incidences of this type of cancer.

The team concluded that a combination of alcohol, tobacco, compounds in tea, and the negative effects of very hot drinks is likely to impact on health after long-term consumption.

456,155 participants aged between 30 and 79 were analysed. Some participants had an existing diagnosis of cancer, whilst others had cut down on tea, alcohol and cigarettes. The participants' health developments were then surveyed for a median of 9.2 years.

During this time, 1,731 participants were diagnosed with oesophageal cancer (just under .4% of participants).

Those who engaged in all three of these habits showed a fivefold increase in the risk for this type of cancer compared with their peers who did not drink tea at high temperatures, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes.

Individuals who only drank hot tea and did not drink alcohol or smoke, did not have an increased risk of oesophageal cancer, suggesting that the combination of the three behaviours was the cause for the increased risk.

Speaking about the results, Lv said: "[Our findings] suggest that abstaining from hot tea might be beneficial for preventing oesophageal cancer in persons who drink alcohol excessively or smoke."

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