Drinking steaming hot tea has been linked with an increased risk of oesophageal (food tube) cancer, Iranian scientists have found.
The British Medical Journal study found that drinking black tea at temperatures of 70C or higher increased the risk. Experts said the finding could explain the increased oesophageal 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. The oesophagus is the muscular tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
Oesophagus cancers kill more than 500,000 people worldwide each year and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most common type. Tobacco and alcohol are the main factors linked to the development of oesophageal cancers in Europe and America.
But it has not been clear why other populations around the world have high rates of the disease although there has been a theory that regularly drinking very hot drinks damages the lining of the gullet.