Drinking very hot beverages, tea might cancer of the oesophagus, global health experts warned today. Swallowing anything very hot - over 65°C (150F0),including water, coffee, tea and other beverages is linked to the disease, according The World Health Organisation's cancer agency.
The theory is that cancer can be initiated by constant irritation of the lining of the mouth and throat by very hot water.
'New figures suggest drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of oesophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible,' said Christopher Wild, director of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
However, it concluded it is safe if consumed at 'normal serving temperatures' - i.e. 65 or under.
Previous research has suggested waiting at least four minutes before drinking a cup of freshly boiled tea, or more generally allowing foods and beverages to cool from 'scalding' to 'tolerable' before swallowing.
The IARC said: 'Studies in places such as China, Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70°C) found the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk.'
'Drinking very hot beverages at above 65°C was classified as 'probably' carcinogenic to humans,' it added.
The one study carried out on cold mate found no association with oesophageal cancer, the report said.