Bad news for Brits and Chinese as hot tea linked to cancer

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A total of 456,155 persons aged 30 to 79 years old participated in the study.

Those who did all three - drinking hot or burning hot tea daily, smoking and consuming more than one alcoholic beverage a day - increased their risk of esophageal cancer by five times, the researchers found.

So tea drinkers who don't smoke or drink alcohol excessively probably don't need to switch to a different beverage anytime soon, according to Lv. The idea first came about in the 1930s when doctors at New York's Memorial Hospital - a precursor to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center - hypothesized that esophageal cancer patients had a history of drinking "copious amounts of excessively hot tea".

But even those who don't touch or cigarettes appear to have a higher risk, researchers warned, but they stressed more tests are needed to assess how damaging it could be. It is often caused by repeated injury to the esophagus because of smoke, alcohol, acid reflux, and possibly hot liquids as suggested by the new study.

But by itself, drinking hot tea doesn't increase cancer risk, Lv said.

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Prof Kevin McConway, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, The Open University, said: "In the United Kingdom most people seem not to drink their tea almost that hot, and it would be hard to get it that hot if you put milk in it, as many people do here".

Experts believe scorching teas and coffee damage the lining of the throat, making it more vulnerable to cancer-causing agents. There are two types of esophageal cancer; adenocarcinomas, where the cancer starts in the gland cells that make mucus, and squamous cell carcinoma, starting in the squamous cells that line the esophagus, which is the most common.

"However, the results of this study should not cause people to abandon their favorite beverage", Dr. Kamminger wrote. Only some of the studies in the review took alcohol and tobacco use into account. We don't know if they changed their habits over the course of 9 years of follow-up. The different disease development may be the result of different exposures and risk factors.

The team suggests people be more careful of the temperature of their cup of tea especially if they smoke or drink regularly. For the people who find it hard to do so, avoiding burning-tea is the alternative solution. Drinking tea is unlikely to be the biggest of their health problems. It is better to give up on smoking/drinking.