Do you like to drink your morning coffee or tea piping hot as soon as it steeps? Well, you might want to think twice before you do it in the future. It turns out that boiling liquid doesn’t just put you at risk for burning your throat, you could be also increasing your likelihood of getting esophageal cancer.
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer wanted to take a more quantitive look at claims that hot tea in particular could cause esophageal cancer, especially considering that it’s the sixth most common cancer worldwide. To do so, they looked at 10 years of survey data in Iran and observed the tea consumption behaviors of 50,045 participants between the ages of 45 and 75. Over that time period, they discovered that people who drank 23.7 ounces of tea per day at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more increased their risk of developing esophageal cancer by a whopping 90 percent.
Scientists are still trying to piece together the mechanisms that lead to this connection, but they believe that beverages at these temperatures could cause permanent damage to the esophageal lining, giving cancer-causing compounds more access to these tissues in the process. This could be especially true for people who drink lots of alcohol or smoke regularly, both of which bring more carcinogens into the body.
While this study specifically focused on tea, researchers believe there could be similar links between hot coffee or water and esophageal cancer, though they’d need to conduct actual experiments to confirm this hypothesis. As for how to prevent increasing your risk of esophageal cancer, according to lead study author Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, there’s a simple solution: Give your drink at least a few minutes to cool off before you enjoy it!
So the next time you’re tempted to down that scorching coffee or tea right after it hits your mug, consider waiting at least a few minutes until it’s cooled down to a cooler temperature to not elevate your cancer risk.