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Drinking extremely hot tea may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer by up to five times, especially if a person also consumes alcohol and is a smoker, a study has warned.

The research, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that drinking very hot tea, along with smoking and drinking alcohol, was linked to an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus.

Although the exact mechanism is not known, research has suggested that frequently consuming scalding liquids may result in long-term injury to the cells lining the oesophagus, said Jun Lv, an epidemiologist at Peking University in China.

Frequently drinking very hot liquids, prepared at temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius - which is much hotter than a typical cup of coffee or tea - can increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus, researchers said.

These heat-related changes to the oesophageal lining may also increase the likelihood of damage from other risk factors for oesophageal cancer, such as smoking and heavy drinking, which may damage the DNA in cells that line the oesophagus, Lv told Live Science.

In the study, researchers looked at data from about 456,000 people in China ages 30 to 79.

At the beginning of the study, the people completed a lifestyle questionnaire that asked how frequently they consumed tea, how much they consumed, how they prepared the beverage and which type of tea they drank.

The participants were also asked whether the usual temperature of their tea was room temperature or warm, hot or burning hot.Daily hot-tea consumption - even if it was served burning hot - was not associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer in people who were not smokers and did not drink alcohol heavily, Lv said.

However, for people who drink too much alcohol or smoke tobacco, avoiding very hot tea might be beneficial for preventing oesophageal cancer, according to the study.


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