WHO: Very hot drinks may cause cancer

  • Drinking very hot beverages may cause cancer according to WHO
  • Beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius could cause people to develop cancer of the esophagus
  • Experts urge consumers to allow their drinks to cool sufficiently before drinking

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that detailed investigation has found very hot drinks may be linked to cancer of the esophagus or gullet.

“These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of esophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible,” said Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In a review published  by a panel of global experts from IARC stated that drinking beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius — 149 degrees Fahrenheit — could cause people to develop cancer of their esophagus, the eighth most common form of cancer worldwide.

Drinking tea, coffee or other hot beverages at this temperature can cause significant scald burns in the esophagus when they’re consumed and has previously been linked to an increased cancer risk in this part of the body, as per an article published by CNN.

IARC produces what it calls monographs, which describes the causal association of the possible causes of cancer. The new monograph classifies hot drinks as group 2A, meaning they are “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Coffee and tea served cold are in group three, which means there is insufficient evidence to believe they cause cancer.

Studies in animals have also shown evidences that very hot water can promote the growth of tumors. “It appears that there is thermal injury from exposure to hot liquids that is capable of leading to cancer of the esophagus,” said IARC doctor Dana Loomis.

Meanwhile experts at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) urge the consumers to allow their drinks to cool sufficiently before drinking, as per an article published by The Telegraph.

WCRF head of research interpretation Dr Rachel Thompson said: “To all the coffee and tea lovers out there, these new findings don’t mean that you can no longer enjoy hot drinks. It is the very hot temperatures that have been identified as a cancer risk and so, when drinking tea or other hot drinks, just let it cool down for a few minutes especially if you’re not adding any milk.”