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You’re Likely To Get Cancer For Drinking Very Hot Drinks

Jun 16, 2016 06:39 AM EDT

Very hot drinks are likely to cause certain cancers, global health experts said.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a review saying that drinking coffee, tea or other beverages with a temperature of over 65 degrees Celsius (150F) may cause people to develop cancer of the esophagus.

Extremely hot beverages may scald the lining of the mouth, tongue and throat, leading to an increased cancer risk, researchers said. However, beverages served at temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius or below should be safe.

"We say: be prudent, let hot drinks cool down," Christopher Wild, IARC director, told Reuters.

In the study, international scientists analyzed previous studies about hot drinks like maté - a leaf infusion common in South America - and a range of beverages including coffee and tea.

Previous researches conducted in South America, China, Iran and Turkey where these drinks are popular indicated positive associations between esophagus cancer risk and the temperatures at which these drinks are commonly consumed. These drinks, including the maté, are commonly drunk at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius (158F) in their specific regions.

"These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of esophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible," said Wild.

Drinking hot beverages is now classified under Group 2A, the same risk group as red meat and nitrogen mustard.

Cancer of the esophagus is the eighth most common type of cancer in the world and one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths, with about 400,000 recorded deaths in 2012 or 5 percent of all cancer deaths.

People in industrialized countries, however, can stay calm as they typically prefer their drinks with less heat.

"This is about 10 degrees [Celsius] higher than people in North America [and Europe] like their coffee," Dana Loomis, deputy head of the monographs section at IARC and part of the review team, said in a statement published on CNN.

However, Gregory Hartl, WHO official spokesman to Geneva told Reuters that smoking and drinking alcohol are among the biggest risk factors for cancer of the esophagus and that people should focus on these factors more.

In 1991, the IARC classified coffee as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." But because of inadequate evidence on the possible link between coffee and cancer, the agency re-evaluated the review and stated that coffee was "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans."

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