Do you enjoy a good cuppa? And what exactly does “a nice cup of tea” mean to you? With milk or lemon? In a cup or mug? Leaves or bags?
Of course, most people would agree that a good cup of tea has to be hot. But if you like to drink your tear hotter than hades, then you might need to weigh up the pleasure of the scald with the risk of cancer.
While it has long been suspected that there was a link between hot beverages and cancer, it wasn’t until recently that a strong association was made between scalding hot tea and cancer of the oesophagus.
And the hotter the tea, the higher your risk, the ABC reports.
A study in Iran, where people like to drink their tea as hot as humanly possible (up to 80 degrees!), found that regularly drinking very hot tea (over 65 degrees Celsius) was associated with eight times the risk of oesophageal cancer.
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Those who drank their tea just hot (60 to 65 degrees) were found to have twice the risk of those who chose to let their tea cool down a little.
Here, where many people add milk, most people are drinking our tea at significantly cooler temperatures.
Professor David Whiteman, head of the Cancer Control Group at QIMR Berghoffer, says it may not be the heat of the beverage that directly causes the cancer, but chronic inflammation caused by the scalding liquid.
“It’s known that heat causes inflammation, and inflammation is a factor that’s involved in many cancers in many organs in the body.”
In regular drinkers of hot tea, “that endless cycle of damage and repair can make the cells unstable and prone to mutation that can set up conditions in which cancers can arise” he said.
Reducing your risk is simple: “Adding milk drops the temp by 5 to 10 degrees immediately… and allowing the tea to sit in the cup for two minutes or so will also take some of that scalding heat out of it and tea can be consumed without causing injury,” said Professor Whiteman.
How do you take your tea? Do you like it hot?