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Saturday, June 18, 2016

CAN COFFEE AND TEA BE CARCINOGENIC?

By now you must have heard or read that hot drinks increase the risk of cancer.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARCwhich is an agency of the World Health Organization of the United Nations) warned that very hot beverages--149 F or 65 C and above, which can burn your tongue, where 100 C or 212 F is the boiling temperature--is probably carcinogenic to your esophagus.   Approximately 400,000 people die annually from esophageal cancer.  Americans might, actually, be okay, but regions such as South America, the Middle East and East Africa might need to lower the 158F (70 C) leaf infusion mate tea they drink.

The addition of cream to coffee/tea certainly is a plus.  However, a UK study showed that a typical cup of tea with a small amount of milk (10 ml) takes 5 minutes to cool to 149 F / 65 C.  How many, though, have the constitution to wait 5  minutes?  Also too:

...people who drank their tea less than two minutes after pouring were almost 5.5 times more likely to develop oesophageal cancer compared with drinking tea four minutes after it was poured.

Thus, if you take any hot drink with no cream, sugar and/or stirring, watch out.  Finally, studies seem to further indicate that 136 F / 57.8 C is really a safer maximum temperature.

I can already predict that drugstores will run out of thermometers that measure hot enough temperatures.  Your body thermometer or digital device tends only to go up to 110 F.


Barbecue thermometers would work, but they go up to 700 F, so you would wonder about accuracy.

You can look at scanning thermometers, but some are only made for fever or BBQ applications, so find the right one for hot beverage measurement.  The advantage is that if you're in a group, the device is remote:


Clearly, a $15 scanning system should be ideal, and one that measures up to 716 F is available from Amazon for $13 (above).  If the surface of of your coffee is at 135 F, who really cares if the measurement is off by 5 F?

Of noteworthiness is that this same IARC study also exonerated coffee from a 1991 release stating that this universal beverage was possibly carcinogenic.  Turns out that only the temperature was the problem.

A few more cancer facts that might surprise you:
  • At least 9 million will die from cancer this year, 22% from tobacco.
  • Did you also realize that lead, gasoline, exhaust fumes and talcum powder are also possibly carcinogenic?  Lead, sure, but talcum powder (which is hydrated magnesium silicate and corn starch)?
I've never been a fan of coffee.  I love the aroma, but hate the bitter taste.  Some people say they become more alert from this brew, but it doesn't seem to affect me much, except that black coffee sometimes has tended to reduce headaches from red wine.

De-caffeinated coffee has some advantages, like:
  • lower caffeine (3-28 mg versus 200 for a 12 ounce cup)
  • less acid reflux
  • fewer digestive problems
  • easier sleeping
  • lower heart arrhythmia
However, the chemical solvents used to leach out the caffeine has been a concern.  There is more acidity, heartburn, ulcers, osteoporosis and urinary tract inflammations.

What applies to coffee temperature also includes tea, and, I would imagine, soups and other hot liquids.  In any case, the above could well be more scare than reality in the Western world.  Both coffee and tea have more and more recently gained a more positive reputation, so Part 2 will provide the benefits of both coffee and tea.

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1 comment:

Maka Point said...

what is the temperature of the hot beverages seved at 15C?