Having obsessions with hot tea, hot kopi, or hotpot? You might need to “cool it down” after reading at the evidence!
The idea that hot beverages might increase the risk of oesophageal cancer arises back in the 1930s. To date, there is still limited evidence on the direct relationship between hot beverages and oesophageal cancer. However, few theories on how hot beverages can cause oesophageal cancer had been proposed.
Although the link between hot beverages and oesophageal cancer is not well established to date, several studies observed that the habit of drinking hot beverages was associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer.1,2 “Very hot beverages” have been classified as “probable carcinogen”, something that probably causes cancer, by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) back in the year 2016. Nonetheless, the opinions from the experts were always controversial due to various limitations in the previous studies.
Limitation on previous studies
There are still ongoing debates after the published statement in the year 2016. However, a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer in January 2020 might bring us more pieces of evidence on the relationship between hot beverages and oesophageal cancer!
The study was carried out by Islami et al. in Iran, with a median of 10 years duration. In view of the limitations of previous studies, the study involves a significant number of subjects from Iran, in exact 50,045 individuals aged 40-75 years, with objectively measured tea drinking temperature. The study found that individuals who drink 700 mL or more tea at > 60°C were associated with a 90% increased risk of oesophageal cancer compared to individuals who drink less than 700 mL of tea per day at a lower temperature (< 60°C).3 Therefore, < 60°C might be the best temperature for you to enjoy your beverages!
Nonetheless, more evidence needs to be explored to confirm the direct relationship between hot beverages and oesophageal cancer. The recent study carried out by Islami et al. has given us a great insight into the “safe” temperature to consume beverages. However, the exact pathophysiology and relationship between hot beverages and oesophageal cancer are yet to be established. Experts also suggested that since the current evidence is mostly regional specific, environmental factors should be ruled out in future studies.
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