Drinking hot tea associated with five-fold increased risk for esophageal cancer for some
Consuming hot tea at high temperatures is associated with an increased risk for esophageal cancer in those who also drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. The findings, based on long-term follow-up in more than 450,000 participants, are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Esophageal cancer is increasing in prevalence and has poor survival rates, particularly in less-developed regions and for men. China is among the countries with the highest esophageal cancer incidence. Tea drinkers, especially Chinese men, are more likely to also smoke and drink alcohol. Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as the chemical compounds and adverse thermal effect of hot tea, considerably complicate the association between tea drinking and cancer risk.
Researchers for the National Natural Science Foundation of China and National Key Research and Development Program surveyed participants enrolled in the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) study, excluding those previously diagnosed with cancer or who reduced their tea drinking, alcohol intake, or cigarette smoking, to determine if high-temperature tea drinking was associated with increased risk for esophageal cancer. The authors followed 456,155 participants aged 30 to 79 for a median follow-up period of 9.2 years. They found a synergistic association between hot tea drinking with excessive alcohol consumption or smoking and the risk for esophageal cancer. Participants who drank high-temperature tea, consumed alcohol excessively, and smoked had an esophageal cancer risk more than 5 times greater than those who had none of those 3 habits. However, the absence of both excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, daily tea drinking was not associated with esophageal cancer risk.
According to the study authors, these findings suggest that abstaining from hot tea may be beneficial for persons who drink alcohol excessively or smoke.
Farin Kamangar et al. Hot Tea and Esophageal Cancer, Annals of Internal Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.7326/M17-3370