Add milk to hot drinks to cut your risk of cancer, say doctors

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Adding milk to your tea or coffee lowers cancer risk. [Photo: Getty]

Adding milk to your tea or coffee could help to protect you from throat cancer. 

That’s according to research conducted by scientists from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, who have discovered a link between drinking boiling hot water and the development of cancer of the oesophagus.

The study of over 500,000 people found those who drink tea at 60°C or more were almost twice as likely to develop the condition.

According to the research, this is because scalding water damages the lining of the mouth and throat, increasing the risk of cancer.

What’s more, those who drink their hot drinks at 75°C are as much as 2.4 times more likely to develop the cancer, the research found.

However, adding cold or warm milk will reduce the temperature, making them safer to drink.

READ MORE: The reason you’re either team coffee or team tea

Dr. Farhad Islami, the study’s lead oncologist, alternatively recommends hot drink lovers wait until their drinks “cool” before they drink them.

Traditionally, in Iran – where the study was conducted – and countries such as China, Turkey and South America, tea is often drunk without milk and at a hotter temperature of 70°C.

READ MORE: Mum shocked after toddler given tea

However, this is less often the case in the UK, where tea is typically served below 60°C.

Georgina Hill, a health information officer at Cancer Research UK commented on the study, saying: “This study adds to the evidence that having drinks hotter than 60°C may increase the risk of oesophageal (food pipe) cancer, but most people in the UK don’t drink their tea at such high temperatures.

“As long you’re letting your tea cool down a bit before you drink it, or adding cold milk, you’re unlikely to be raising your cancer risk – and not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and cutting down on alcohol will do much more to stack the odds in your favour.”

What temperature should you drink tea and coffee at?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC), which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends people drink tea at a temperature of 65 degrees or less, to avoid health risks.

As for the optimum temperature to enjoy tea’s flavour, researchers at the University of Northumbria found 60 degrees is best – but anywhere above 45 degrees is fine to enjoy the “sensory experience”.

Meanwhile, coffee experts recommend the drink should be enjoyed at between 48°C and 60°C.

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