Steaming Hot Tea Linked to Cancer

hot teaDrinking steaming hot tea has been linked with an increased risk of esophageal (food tube) cancer. A study found that drinking black tea at temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius or higher, increased the risk.

This could explain the increased esophageal cancer risk in some non-Western populations. Adding milk, as most tea drinkers in Western countries do, cools the drink enough to eliminate the risk.

Compared with drinking warm or lukewarm tea, drinking hot tea (65 to 69 degrees Celsius) was associated with twice the risk of esophageal cancer, and drinking very hot tea (70 degrees Celsius or more) was associated with an eight-fold increased risk.

Esophagus cancers kill more than 500,000 people worldwide each year.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Drinking very hot beverages of any kind is likely something you’re better off avoiding. As this study found, doing so could increase your risk of esophageal cancer by anywhere from two to eight times.

A study nearly a decade ago found similarly that hot beverages raise your risk of esophageal cancer by as much as four times. This was particularly true when the beverage was consumed with a straw, which brings the very hot fluid directly to your esophagus.

To be clear, it is the temperature of the liquid that appears to be a problem here, not the beverage itself. So high-quality tea can continue to be a healthy beverage choice, and in fact has been shown to lower your risk of several cancers, including breast, skin, colon, prostate and ovarian.

Just be sure you let it cool off a bit or add a few ice cubes before you drink it, or alternatively drink it cold. Ideally, most of the fluid you drink should be at room temperature. The only exception would be if you were overheated and hyperthermic, in which case cold fluids would be beneficial.

How Hot is Too Hot?

The negative effects appear to start right around 65 degrees C, which is 149 degrees F. The greatest risk came at temperatures over 70 degrees C, or 158 F. For comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F and simmers at about 190 F.

So your beverage does not have to be near the boiling point to do some damage to your throat. The researchers suggested simply waiting a few minutes after brewing for your tea to cool from “scalding” to “tolerable.”

Again, ideally try to get in the habit of drinking your beverages at room temperature, as those that are too hot can damage your esophagus, while those that are too cold can harm the delicate lining of your stomach.

After Water, Tea is One of Your Healthiest Beverage Choices

Please don’t let this study deter you from drinking tea. Although I still believe pure water should make up the majority of your daily fluid intake, it’s becoming increasingly clear that high-quality tea has numerous health benefits to offer.

Among them is growing evidence that the polyphenols in tea, which include EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and many others, are protective against cancer. The polyphenols in green tea appear to be even more effective at fighting the progression of cancer than the antioxidants found in red wine and grapes.

Beyond this, the beneficial properties in tea have been known to:

• Neutralize the effects to your body of harmful fats and oils
• Inhibit bacteria and viruses such as HIV, hepatitis, and herpes
• Improve digestion
• Protect against oxidation in your brain and liver
• Help promote healthy gums

Tea may also improve your exercise performance, increase fat oxidation and prevent obesity, as it’s known to have a regulatory effect on fat metabolism.

Drinking tea has also been linked to:

• Improved mental alertness and slowing of brain-cell degeneration
• Lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
• Reduced blood pressure
• Lower risk of breast, colon, lung, ovarian and prostate cancers
• Protection again type 2 diabetes
• Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke

Of course, there are some general ground rules to follow when selecting tea of any kind, and those are that it should preferably be:

• Organic (otherwise tea may be heavily sprayed with pesticides)

• Grown in a pristine environment (tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea)

So keep these tips in mind, and go ahead and enjoy a cup or two of your favorite variety. I personally prefer Matcha tea, a vibrant bright green tea made of tea leaves ground into a powder, and Tulsi tea, which is a powerful adaptogenic herb that provides important therapeutic benefits.  

No matter which variety is your favorite, be sure to let it cool down before you drink it. You’ll know your tea is a comfortable temperature when you can’t feel it noticeably going down your throat. If the tea feels scalding or very hot as you drink it, then it’s probably too hot.