Smokers and those who drink alcohol excessively should think twice about drinking hot tea. Findings of a new study have found a link between drinking tea while it is hot and increase risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer kills about 400,000 people per year and is currently the eighth most common cancer worldwide. 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.

In the new study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers have found an association between drinking hot tea with up to fivefold increased odds in esophageal cancer but the link is only found in those who smoke or drink alcohol.

Study researcher Jun Lv, from Peking University, and colleagues followed nearly 500,000 adults in China for almost a decade. They found that in people who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol excessively, drinking hot tea regularly was linked to a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Excessive alcohol use was defined as consuming at least 15 grams of alcohol per day, which is slightly more than the content of a 12-ounce glass of beer, 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits, or 5 ounce glass of wine. Greater risk for esophageal cancer was found in those who smoke at least one cigarette per day.

"Drinking tea at high temperatures is associated with an increased risk for esophageal cancer when combined with excessive alcohol or tobacco use," the researchers wrote in their study.

Abstain From Hot Tea Or Quit Smoking And Excessive Alcohol Drinking

Based on the findings, the researchers offered some advice for people who smoke or drink large amounts of alcohol. They can abstain from drinking hot tea to prevent esophageal cancer or quit smoking and excessive alcohol use.

"It's important to abstain from high-temperature tea in excessive alcohol consumers and smokers for esophageal cancer prevention," Lv said. "Of course, keeping away from both tobacco and excessive alcohol use is the most important means for esophageal cancer prevention."

How Smoking And Drinking Alcohol May Contribute To Cancer Development

The study did not prove a causal association but researchers think that hot tea may damage the tissue lining of the esophagus, which can increase the odds of injury from other factors such as drinking and smoking.

Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco are by themselves associated with higher odds for cancer.

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