When it comes to tea, how hot is too hot? Previous research has linked hot tea to increased risk for esophageal cancer, and now a study published in the International Journal of Cancer gets more detailed about exactly how hot tea has to be to increase this risk.
The study involved more than 50,000 people between ages of 40 and 75, who were followed for an average of 10 years. During the study period, 317 of the participants developed cancer of the esophagus. Those who drank three cups of hot tea per day at a temp 140°F or higher had a 90 percent higher risk for esophageal cancer compared to those who drank less tea at cooler temperatures. This is not an insignificant health risk because, after water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world.
Hot beverages like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate are often served at temperatures exceeding 160°F — hot enough to causes scalding burns. The risk occurs because drinking hot liquids can damage cells that line the esophagus and lead to cancer. The lead author of the new study, Dr. Farhad Islami of the American Cancer Society, advises letting hot beverages cool down before drinking them to lower your esophageal cancer risk.