Drinking hot tea may increase the risk of throat cancer, according to Iranian researchers.
They studied people in Golestan province, which has one of the highest rates of esophageal cancer in the world. Tea consumption in the province averages 1.8 pints per person per day, but there are low levels of tobacco and alcohol use, Agence France Presse reported.
The study of 300 throat cancer patients and 571 healthy people found that those who drank hot tea (65-69 degrees Celsius, 149-156 degrees Fahrenheit) were twice as likely to develop throat cancer as those who drank warm or lukewarm tea. Those who drank very hot tea (at least 70 C, 158 F) were eight times more likely to develop throat cancer than those who drank warm or lukewarm tea.
The findings were published Friday in the BMJ.
The team from the Digestive Disease Research Center at Tehran University of Medical Sciences found no association between the amount of tea consumption and cancer risk. The study didn't look at coffee or other hot beverages, AFP reported.
In an accompanying editorial, David Whiteman from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Australia, said the study contributes to evidence that scorching fluids may cause damage to the throat's epithelial lining and lead to cancer. How this may occur remains unclear.
But the editorial also said there's no reason for panic, because most people drink tea at a warm temperature. It recommended tea drinkers wait at least four minutes before drinking from a freshly boiled cup, AFP reported.