Anyone who likes to curl up with a steaming hot drink should consider letting some of that warmth subside; drinking it could increase their risk of developing cancer.
In a review published today by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, drinking very hot beverages was classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
More specifically, the review by a panel of global experts stated that drinking beverages at temperatures above 65 degrees Celsius — 149 degrees Fahrenheit — could cause people to develop cancer of their esophagus, the eighth most common form of cancer worldwide. Drinking tea, coffee or other hot beverages at this temperature can cause significant scald burns in the esophagus when they're consumed and has previously been linked to an increased cancer risk in this part of the body.
Warm beverages are not typically consumed this hot in Europe and North America, but are commonly served at, or above, this temperature in regions such as South America, the Middle East and East Africa — particularly when drinking teas. It's hotter than water coming out of sink faucets, which is typically no higher than 60 degrees Celsius, about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but not as hot as boiling water. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit.