Very hot drinks may cause cancer, says UN health agency

coffeeDrinking very hot drinks such as coffee or tea “probably” causes cancer, the UN has said.

It is believed the temperature, rather than the substance of the drinks, causes cancer of the oesophagus and becomes a risk once beverages have a temperature above 65C, AFP reports.

The announcement follows a review of more than 1,000 scientific studies on whether there is a link between coffee and cancer, conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Christopher Wild, agency director, 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.”

A spokesperson for the IARC said: ”Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70C) found that the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk.

“Drinking very hot beverages at above 65C was classified as ‘probably’ carcinogenic to humans.”

Responding to the findings, 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, although very hot tea is a popular drink in Middle Eastern and other countries.

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