Brrrrrr. This time of year, as temperatures plummet, even just IMAGINING curling up with a steaming hot cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa is comforting. In fact, I’ll admit I’m thinking about it right now.
Nothing takes the edge of a cold morning like a warm drink. But put down that mug and step away from the table. Because researchers have a serious warning, you need to hear BEFORE you take another sip.
Make sure that beverage isn’t TOO hot.
It turns out it isn’t just a scalded tongue you’re risking when you don’t. You could be sending your chances of a cancer diagnosis climbing, too.
Studies have been making the link for years. Drinking hot beverages is associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. And research has found in places where drinking VERY hot tea… such as China, Iran, and Turkey… is the tradition, the risk rises with the temperature.
But the trouble is one man’s “too hot” is another’s “just right.” Because our experience of temperature is very subjective.
Cancer risk could rise with every sip
So how hot is too hot? Well, that’s precisely what a breakthrough study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, set out to answer.
Researchers took a deep dive into 10 years of data, including tea drinking habits, of 50,045 volunteers between 40 and 75.
They kept track of…
- the temperature of the tea that folks were drinking
- their other tea-drinking habits
- any additional habits that could have affected the data
In the 10 years of follow up, 317 new cases of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) were revealed. And it turns out there IS a danger threshold when beverages become TOO hot, greatly contributing to your risk of ESCC. And that’s 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The researchers evaluated the amount of tea folks drank along with the temperature of the beverage. And when they compared people drinking less than 700 ml … or around 24 fluid ounces… per day at LESS than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to those drinking 700 ml or more at temperatures OVER 140 degrees, they found the folks in the second group had a shocking 90 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer.
Plus, as suspected, the volunteer’s subjective perceptions of the temperature of their tea (“very hot” versus “cold/lukewarm”) didn’t necessarily match up with the actual objective temperatures.
Simple solution could slash esophageal risk
So, in other words, unless you’re letting your hot drinks cool down to below 140 degrees, you could be sending your esophageal cancer risk soaring.
Now, most of us aren’t in the habit of sticking a thermometer in our tea or coffee, of course. But you can certainly give it a try to see where yours typically lands.
Or you can simply adopt a policy of waiting three or four minutes to drink your tea or coffee to be sure it’s dropped below the danger zone.
(Just don’t skip that coffee or tea, as both are packed with health benefits. Click here to learn 5 incredible benefits of coffee. And you’ll find 6 surprising green tea benefits here.)
Your favorite hot beverages might not feel quite as comforting when they’re just warm. But the tradeoff is well worth it. Esophageal cancer is among the deadliest cancers.
Experts estimate that 16,170 people will die from the disease this year alone. And it’s the seventh most common cause of cancer death among men. And the five-year survival rate stands at around 47 percent overall.
Given that perspective, I’ll be happily embracing my lukewarm beverages from here on out. And I suggest you join me.