Drinking very hot coffee or tea can increase the risk of this cancer type

World Cancer Day 2023: Everyone enjoys their cup of coffee or tea but what if you find that they're putting you at risk of esophageal cancer.
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Your poor lifestyle is the biggest risk factor leading to cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Amit Miglani Published: 4 Feb 2023, 15:00 pm IST
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If you are fond of having your cup of tea or coffee very hot, there may be some reason for you to worry. A recent study, available on PubMed, has found a link between the drinking of hot beverages like hot water, tea, and coffee and the risk of esophageal cancer. Alcohol had earned a bad reputation for a long time for sending fat levels and blood pressure levels spiraling and increasing the risk of deadly diseases. However, as it turns out, even tea and coffee are linked with a risk of esophageal cancer in people.

How are tea and coffee responsible for cancer risk?

The esophagus is a hollow tube that functions as a carrier of liquids, saliva, and chewed-up food from the mouth to your stomach. Cancer of the esophagus or esophageal cancer results from the growth of tumour cells in the esophagus or in the lining of the esophagus change.

Drinking very hot beverages like hot water, tea or coffee might increase your risk of esophageal cancer. Mostly seen as healthy beverages when they are had in limited quantities, tea, and coffee could raise disease risk with their caffeine and antioxidant content. However, having the brew too hot can damage the esophagus and triple cancer risk. To reduce your risk, allow the drink to cool before you take the first sip. It is shown that people who preferred warm brews had a 2.7 times higher risk and those preferring very hot brews are 4.1 times more prone to cancer.

esophageal cancer
Coffee lovers should know its pros and cons. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

A journal further states that coffee enthusiasts were more prone to disease risk as opposed to non-smokers. Furthermore, a stronger genetic disease association was found in people who preferred caffeinated hot drinks as opposed to decaf loyalists.

Also read: Drinking tea first thing in the morning? 3 reasons why it is not healthy

Why could drinking hot tea and other beverages lead to cancer?

While more research is needed on why drinking hot tea and other beverages may increase your risk of esophageal cancer. According to one theory, very hot beverages are likely to damage the lining of the esophagus causing it to become vulnerable to the entry of other cancer-causing substances like alcohol and cigarette smoke. Furthermore, sweetening the beverages also impacts their nutritional value resulting in more harm than good.

But coffee is not all that bad, it could also have a beneficial effect when consumed in limited quantities. Some studies show that drinking three cups of coffee a day benefits in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as type 2 diabetes.

Also read: World Cancer Day 2023: Common cancers that are affecting women

Other risk factors of esophageal cancer

Drinking hot tea or coffee alone doesn’t cause cancer. Along with regularly drinking hot tea or coffee, if you have other risk factors like drinking alcohol and smoking, you may be at a higher risk of getting esophageal cancer.

esophageal cancer
Smoking increases your risk of cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to reduce cancer risk

To help lower your risk of some types of cancers, it is essential to adopt a combination of lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and not to forget, allowing beverages to cool before you drink. In addition, a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are known to lower your risk of disease.

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So, next time you are tempted to reach out for your cuppa of hot tea or coffee, think twice and allow it to cool before you enjoy it!

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About the Author

Dr Amit Miglani, Gastroenterology, Asian Hospital Faridabad. He has done MBBS from the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, MD (Medicine) from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, and DM (Gastroenterology) from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research(PGIMER), Chandigarh.   ...Read More

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