Who doesn’t love tea? For Indians, it is the energy booster but a recent study has said that smokers and drinkers should avoid hot tea as it can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

The cancer, which starts in the esophagus, was already known to be linked to drinking alcohol and smoking, but those risks are heightened by the addition of daily cups of “burning hot” tea, scientists discovered. The risks to smokers also increase with high-temperature tea drinking, said the study, which examined data on 456,155 Chinese adults ages 30 to 79.

Lv Jun, of Peking University Health Science Centre in China, who co-authored the study, told The Telegraph: “Boiling hot tea will harm the cells in the oesophagus. If the person also drinks alcohol and smokes, then the harm caused will be more heightened.” At the start of the study, none of the participants had cancer. Researchers followed half of the participants for at least nine years.

During the study, 1,731 people developed esophageal tumours. Rates of the disease are relatively high in China, where tea drinking is common and many men smoke and drink. Chinese people often drink tea from flasks that they carry with them to their workplace and regularly fill up with hot water.

Very few Chinese drink traditional British tea, which less hot than Chinese varieties as it also usually taken with cold milk. People in Russia, Turkey and South America enjoy their tea very hot, with many regularly drinking it at temperatures above 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius).Past research has shown that tea can help to protect against tumours in the digestive tract.

But studies have also suggested that hot liquids and food can cause “thermal injury” which can increase the risk factors associated with cancer. The findings have been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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