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How hot is too hot before tea becomes a risk for cancer? This new study has an answer

How hot do you like you’re tea? Too hot can give you cancer. JOHN MUTRUX/The Kansas City Star
How hot do you like you’re tea? Too hot can give you cancer. JOHN MUTRUX/The Kansas City Star

Tea lovers who prefer drinking their relaxing brew really hot are putting themselves at a greater risk of throat cancer, says a report published this week in the International Journal of Cancer.

Three or more cups a day, sipped at 140 degrees or higher, gives you a 90 percent higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, reported researchers with the Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

The study tracked the tea drinking habits of 50,045 adults (age 40 to 75) for a decade, including recording how much tea they drank, how hot it was, and how long the drinker waited to sip after pouring it into a cup.

Scientists then tested to see which of the tea drinkers developed esophageal cancer cells in their throat.

Data showed 317 of the 50,045 people developed cancer cells, and most of the stricken people had a preference for “very hot tea,” said an abstract of the study.

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They drank nearly 24 ounces of tea a day -- about three tea cups -- and preferred it to be 140 degrees Fahrenheit, said the study.

“Our results substantially strengthen the existing evidence supporting an association between hot beverage drinking and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma,” said the report.

The American Cancer Society reports there are about 17,650 new esophageal cancer cases diagnosed each year in the country, largely in men.

Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide,” according to the Mayo Clinic. In an advanced stage, esophageal cancer makes “it difficult or impossible for food and liquid to pass through your esophagus,” says the clinic.

Other contributing factors to esophageal cancer include smoking and alcohol consumption, says the clinic.

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