Some Like it Hot

If you love a morning cup of coffee or tea served scalding hot – the World Health Organization (WHO) just released a message for you. Don’t do it!

According to a WHO news release, drinking very hot beverages could cause cancer. From

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.
The report is based on a study done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). At the same time, the IARC reversed its 1991 classification that listed coffee as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” NBC news wrote, “The group now says there’s not enough evidence to say whether coffee might cause cancer or protect against it.
Some are calling the latest classification of coffee and even the study on very hot beverages “confusing.” Vox Science & Health wrote:

In the case of coffee, the IARC reviewed more than 1,000 studies in humans and animals and found there was “inadequate evidence” that coffee raises the risk of cancer. So the agency opted to categorize the beverage as “unclassifiable” when it comes to its carcinogenicity.

That’s a pretty confusing classification, but it means the evidence went in so many directions, depending on the type of cancer, that there was no way to say with certainty that coffee is generally safe.

And Reuters News quoted David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Britain’s University of Cambridge, as saying he was concerned that IARC’s review of hot beverages might confuse people too.

“Last year the IARC said that bacon is carcinogenic, but it became clear that when eaten in moderation it is not very risky. In the case of very hot drinks, the IARC concludes they are probably hazardous, but can’t say how big the risk might be,” he said in an emailed comment. “This may be interesting science, but makes it difficult to construct a sensible response.”

What do you think about this latest study. Do you find it confusing? Will it change the way you drink coffee or tea? Hearing your thoughts on the health stories that are making headlines is important to us, and driving these types of conversations is critical to our long term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!



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