Hot Drinks Probably Cause Health Cancer – WHO Says
Hot drinks probably cause cancer and they should always be left for a few minutes to lower the temperature, or cooled down with milk to avoid disease, the World Health Organisation has warned.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the WHO, said very hot drinks of 65C and over double the risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus.
However the panel found there was no evidence that coffee or tea causes cancer and said any link was because of the hot temperature of the drink.
Dr Christopher Wild, director of IARC, said: “These results suggest that 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.”
The lifetime risk of getting oesophageal cancer in a man is 1 in 55, meaning that for every 550 men, 10 would get oesophageal cancer anyway. The new research suggests that this increases to 20.6 out of 550 for men who drink very hot beverages, a doubling of the risk.
Experts said that most Britons should not be overly alarmed by the findings. Recent research published in the journal Burns found that a cup of tea with 10ml of milk cooled to less than 65C in less than five minutes.
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 Rachel Thompson
The Royal Society of Chemistry also recommends drinking tea at 60-65 degrees while Northumbria University found that the perfect drinking temperature of tea – 60C – is achieved six minutes after brewing begins. Most coffee experts recommend that the drink be served between 40 and 60C (120 – 140F).
Casey Dunlop, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Most people in the UK don’t consume drinks at the temperatures considered in this research.
“So as long as you let your drink cool down a bit before you drink it, you’re unlikely to be much at risk.”
The research also found that coffee itself was unlikely to cause cancer. In 1991 the IARC linked coffee to bladder cancer, but following the lengthy review, it has now concluded that the evidence has become weaker
In its new evaluation of more than 500 studies, it also found that coffee drinking had no carcinogenic effects for cancers of the pancreas, female breast, and prostate.
Adding milk to tea will help cool it down.
For more than 20 other cancers, the evidence was inadequate to enable a conclusion to be made.
Although the IARC said it could not prove that coffee was ‘safe’ it said that current data supports it is unlikely to cause the majority of cancers. It may even be protective against womb and liver cancers, the panel concluded.
Kristine Breminer Isgren, chair of the British Coffee Association, added: “We at the British Coffee Association welcomed the World Health Organisation’s confirmation that there is no discernible link between coffee and cancer.
“Coffee is one of the most heavily researched products in the world. It is great news for the millions of coffee lovers that the World Health Organisation has provided that reassurance.”
“This re-classification follows strong evidence that coffee has a protective effect against some cancers. Research has also shown coffee may help reduce the risks heart disease, strokes (in women), Parkinson disease and Alzheimer’s disease”.
Experts said that consumers should allow their drinks to cool sufficiently before drinking.
Dr Rachel Thompson, head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “To all the 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.”
Dr Tim Bond of the Tea Advisory Panel added: “This latest announcement from IARC today for very hot beverages has no relevance to the great British cuppa enjoyed by millions of people daily.
“Tea has been confirmed by many organisations, such as Public Health England, as a healthy drink, which supports normal hydration.
“Emerging evidence suggests that tea contributes to heart health and may help to reduce the risk of cancer, although this needs to be backed up with further human studies.
“In the meantime, tea drinkers in the UK can continue to enjoy tea in the traditional way with a drop of milk which ensures that the temperature of tea sits within safe limits.”