by Qianyu Ann Nie
NEW YORK, Feb. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Drinking scalding hot tea may increase the risk of esophageal cancer in people who also consume alcohol and smoke, according to a recent study in the U.S. Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study examined the data collected from almost 500,000 adults from 30 to 79 years old.
Researchers followed the participants and found that over a span of nine and a half years, 1,731 of them developed esophageal cancer.
The result shows that drinking scalding hot tea, by itself, does not predict esophageal cancer.
However, excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption, which are known causes of esophageal cancer, may further increase cancer risk among participants who like their tea “burning hot”.
At the outset of the study, researchers defined “excessive consumption” as 15 grams of alcohol or more per day and one or more cigarettes per day.
"Irritating the lining of the esophagus could lead to increased inflammation and more rapid turnover of the cells," said Neal Freedman, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda in the U.S. state of Maryland.
"Alternatively, hot liquids may impair the barrier function of the cells lining the esophagus, leaving the tissue open to greater damage from other carcinogens." he added.
One of the limitations of the study, however, was that the participants did not measure the temperature of the tea in their reports.
Previous studies have found that drinking tea has health benefits, such as the antioxidant properties of the tea leaves may help against other types of cancer.
"Drinking hot tea contributed to cancer only when it clustered with smoking and drinking alcohol excessively," noted study coauthor Dr. Jun Lv of Peking University Health Science Center in China.
“Keeping away from both tobacco and excessive alcohol use is the most important means for esophageal cancer prevention,” said Dr. Lv.