Back in 1991, coffee was thought of as a possible cause of esophageal or gullet cancer, which is the eight most common type of cancer in the world. But after new investigations by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC, evidence showed that it’s not coffee that’s the culprit.
And neither is the herbal drink mate cimarrón or chimarrão. The drink mate was considered a cancer cause in South America, which has the most number of esophageal cancer in the world and it is where the drink is widely consumed.
It’s Not the Drink, It’s the Temperature
The experts from IARC, which is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), discovered that the real culprit is the temperature in which the herbal drink mate is drunk. Drinking hot beverages in a temperature going over 149F can cause the cancer. The agency therefore said that very hot beverages are now classified as possible carcinogens to humans. The study was published in the Lancet Oncology journal.
Esophageal cancer has killed about 400,000 people in the world in 2012. The main causes of this cancer is smoking and drinking and is mostly high in people from Asia, East Africa, and South America. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Pressure in the chest
- Unexplained weight loss
Those who have the cancer also find it difficult to eat food, making them choke on what they eat frequently.
But What Makes Hot Drinks Cancerous?
In the United States, hot beverages are served from 140F to 160F. Experts recommend that coffee or tea drinkers should wait for their drink to cool down first just a little bit before drinking. If possible, switch to the cold variety to ensure that you don’t increase your risk of developing cancer. Whatever you drink that’s beyond the recommended temperature of your drink can burn the esophagus. And if this is done regularly, this can trigger cancer as stated in the study.
The burns caused by drinking very hot beverages can ultimately damage the walls and eventually the cells of the esophagus. As a result, cancer can become the problem. This is actually similar to how alcohol consumption can cause esophageal cancer. Alcohol can damage the cells of the esophagus as well as the throat itself. This is why something that is too hot can also cause cancer. The researchers state that it is still not clear whether the exposure to thermal heat in the esophagus is the cause of cancer formation or if it is in conjunction with other carcinogenic agents, such as tobacco smoke and other pollutants.