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Could Hot Drinks Increase Cancer Risk?

Are you one of those people who just aren't awake without that morning cup of coffee or tea? Well, according to the World Health Organization, depending on how hot you drink your beverage of choice, you could be putting yourself at an increased risk of developing cancer. In a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, researchers found a link between very hot beverages - exceeding temperatures of 149 degrees Fahrenheit - and esophageal cancer, which is the eighth most common form of cancer, and the sixth deadliest.


"The good news is that it’s not a specific type of beverage that’s causing the increase in cancer," says Wilmington, North Carolina, dentist Dr. Michelle Simpson. "It’s just the temperature of the beverage."

That’s good news for your daily Starbucks run - but what’s the connection between heat and cancer?

"Think about when you go outside and get a sunburn," says Simpson. "It’s not just the UV radiation, you are burning your skin - and that’s exactly what you’re doing to your esophagus when you drink excessively hot beverages."

So, what can you do to lower your risk of developing this type of cancer?

"It really is as simple as not drinking anything too hot," says Simpson. "Set your coffee pot to lower than 149 degrees Fahrenheit, or if you can’t adjust the temperature settings, test the temperature with a meat thermometer to get an idea of how hot it typically runs. If it's too hot, get a different machine. If it isn’t, you’re good to go."

As for those who do make those daily coffee-shop runs?

"Most coffee shops do make their beverages pretty hot. Starbucks coffee typically ranges from 149 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but some people prefer their coffee exceeding 180 degrees Fahrenheit," she says. "The good news is most places can make your drink at whatever temperature you request. If you want to be safe, pick a temperature in the safe range, or wait for your drink to cool down a little bit before you drink it."

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