WHO Warns That Hot Drinks ‘Probably’ Cause Cancer

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that hot drinks are a likely cancer cause and that they should always be left for several minutes to lower the temperature before being swallowed.

WHO agency IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) have said that drinks of 65 degrees C and over are a probable cause of oesophageal cancer.

That said, the panel found no evidence that tea or coffee causes cancer and said the link is only associated with the hot temperatures.

Director of IARC, Dr Christopher Wild, said the results show that consuming very hot drinks is one likely cause of oesophageal cancer and that temperature is responsible, rather than the actual drinks.

According to experts, Britons shouldn’t be too alarmed about the findings. Recent studies showed that a cup of tea containing 10ml of milk cooled to less than 65 degrees C in fewer than five minutes.

It is recommended by the Royal Society of Chemistry that tea should be drank at 60-65 degrees, whereas findings from Northumbria University suggest that the perfect temperature (60 degrees) is reached after six minutes of brewing. Most coffee experts say that the beverage should be consumed at between 40 and 60 degrees.

Cancer Research UK’s health information officer, Casey Dunlop, said that most UK citizens don’t drink their tea or coffee at the temperatures mentioned in this research, so risk is unlikely as long as people allow their drinks to cool down first.

According to experts, consumers should let their drinks cool down significantly before drinking them. The World Cancer Research Fund’s head of research interpretation, Dr Rachel Thompson, said that tea lovers shouldn’t feel that these findings mean they can no longer enjoy a hot drink. She said it’s very hot temperatures that have been labelled a risk, so it’s important to either let it cool down or add milk before taking a sip.

It was also found that coffee as a drink is unlikely to cause cancer. The IARC linked coffee to bladder cancer in 1991, but after a lengthy review it has been concluded that this evidence has become weaker. The new evaluation, which studied more than 500 cases, found that coffee drinking did not have any carcinogenic effects for cancers of the breast, pancreas or prostate.

He said that if things went well, Britain could continue to work with other agencies, but he feels that doing everything regarding medical devices alone would be hard.

The evidence wasn’t adequate enough to make a conclusion in the case of more than 20 other types of cancer.

The IARC said it couldn’t prove that coffee is a safe drink, but it’s not likely to cause the majority of cancers. The panel concluded that it could even protect against liver and womb cancers.

Chair of the British Coffee Foundation, Kristine Breminer Isgren, said that the association welcomed the WHO’s confirmation that there’s no clear link between cancer and the drink. She said that coffee is one of the world’s most researched products and it is good news for coffee lovers that the WHO has provided this reassurance.

She added that research has also suggested that coffee could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, strokes (in women), heart disease and Parkinson’s.