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WHO: Drinking Extremely Hot Coffee, Tea 'Probably' Causes Cancer (usatoday.com) 274

An anonymous reader writes from a report via USA Today: The World Health Organization reports that drinking coffee, tea and other beverages at temperatures hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit may lead to cancer of the esophagus. These hot beverages can injure cells in the esophagus and lead to the formation of cancer cells, said Mariana Stern, an associate professor of preventative medicine and urology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. But scientists did say that if you drink coffee at cooler temperatures, it is not only safe but it may decrease of the risk of liver cancer by 15%, according to research published in Lancet Oncology. Previously, the International Agency for Research on Cancer ruled coffee was a "possible carcinogenic" in 1991. The research involved Stern and 22 other scientists from 10 countries, who examined about 1,000 studies on more than 20 types of cancer.
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WHO: Drinking Extremely Hot Coffee, Tea 'Probably' Causes Cancer

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  • They used to have Extremely Hot Coffee.

    • Damn it, look what you did. You brought up the McDonald's Hot Coffee lawsuit on Slashdot, which always elicits 50+ posts of pedantic nerds re-debating the merits of the suit. Let it go, people. That was years ago.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:04PM (#52325567) Journal

    I had a customer some years ago who was an oncologist. He told me that the reason we see so much cancer these days is that we live long enough to get cancer.

    -jcr

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:14PM (#52325627)
      That's an indirect way of stating that we've found solutions to most of the diseases which historically killed people. That leave the ones we haven't cured, such as cancer, to increase in relative proportion. You're oncologist's statement doesn't do anything to explain the reason a teenager might get cancer.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        s/You're/Your/

        Sometimes my muscle memory gets ahead of me, and previewing short comments is a hassle.
      • You're oncologist's statement doesn't do anything to explain the reason a teenager might get cancer.

        Sure it does. One of the main causes of teenagers getting cancer is not dying in infancy.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          That would be true only if teenagers with cancer would have been more likely to die as an infant, or if teenagers used to die of cancer, but the cause of death was misstated because autopsies were not done, or weren't done to modern standards. The second seems much more likely. "Since the late 1970s, cancer incidence rates in teenagers and young adults have increased by almost three-fifths (55%) in Great Britain.", so why are there 50% more cancer cases per 100 teens? Randomly killing 90 of them in infanc
      • I see you're following the standard Slashdot policy of letting no single comment ever lie with just a nod of the head, you must complain, whine, humiliate that in some way the poster is WRONG and MISSED THE POINT. Jesus, this annoying community.
        That person's oncologist made a solid point, it's basically true, and wasn't trying to explain your hypothetical "teenager with cancer", even though guess what? Teens in medieval times got cancer too!
        WHO is a useful organization that does a lot of useful things, but

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by msauve ( 701917 )
          You're an asshole, and wrong to boot. You lack a basic understanding of cause and effect.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:17PM (#52325643)

      Very similar to what my mother's coworker once said, that cancer is simply nature's failsafe to make sure that eternal life just does not happen. Survive all the other stuff and the cancer WILL get you eventually.

      Here's the really, REALLY big question.

      Do you want to live a life of fun, good food, fun entertainment and hot beverages, then die at 70, or do you want to live a life of measuring everything daily in a state of panic that you might get cancer and then die at 74 - that is, if you don't accidentally walk in front of a bus when you're 40?

      • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:35PM (#52325733) Homepage Journal

        Here's the really, REALLY big question.

        Do you want to live a life of fun, good food, fun entertainment and hot beverages, then die at 70, or do you want to live a life of measuring everything daily in a state of panic that you might get cancer and then die at 74 - that is, if you don't accidentally walk in front of a bus when you're 40?

        The same question always comes up in discussions of health food, smoking, meat eating etc., and it's always a false dichotomy. The way you eat and exercise has an immediate effect on your quality of life, and more so as you get older. Also, you don't have to be a nutrition nazi to enjoy a better life -- think of the big picture instead of worrying about every single bite. The cognitive benefits may even help you avoid the bus accident.

        • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @08:16AM (#52328057)

          Also not that these things are true for groups of people, not about individuals.A doctor who investigates old people also noted that it is remarkable that of all the people she interviewed all had a very uplifiting and positive viuw on life.

          She only interviews people who are older than 100. The first person they investigated was my great aunt [wikipedia.org] who was the oldest person in the world at that moment.

          She gave her body to science with the specific intructions that it should be used for others and as many as possible to learn. In a way, she open sourced her body.

      • Very similar to what my mother's coworker once said, that cancer is simply nature's failsafe to make sure that eternal life just does not happen.

        Why would "Nature" (which is not a willful entity) "want" to make sure that eternal life doesn't happen? By the way, when a bacterium divides, or when a sperm (alive) and egg (alive) join, guess what -- they stay alive. The germline cells are, in a very real sense, immortal. They can die by the usual physical means (e.g. getting crushed, eaten, etc...) but are none

        • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @02:22AM (#52327247)

          I'm not talking about a willful desire to avoid eternal life.

          Bacteria is one thing. If larger lives, think mammals, reptiles, birds and so on were able to survive eternally then evolution would be stagnant - that, or the planet would eventually be so full of identical life that there would be no room for any more lives to be added.

          It is difficult to put into words, especially since English isn't my native language, but nature and evolution would be in trouble if things were able to, well, not die. That is what makes cancer a failsafe, a means of renewal in the bigger picture, a certainty that older creatures will eventually give way to younger ones.

          At the end of the day, cancer comes from the degradation of cells, shortening of some connectors whose names escape me at the moment. It is as close to a law of nature as you can get, a physical constraint on how long a given body can last. Some make it past 100, some only make it to 60, but those hundred years are still a long, LONG way from living forever.

      • wait for your coffee to cool, right? In my experience if I'm drinking it that hot it's because it tastes like garbage. The Japanese don't drink Sake warm because of tradition, they drink it warm because cheap Sake tastes better that way.

        And there are _lots_ of other good things in life besides junk food and cheap, burnt coffee.
      • Do you want to live a life of fun, good food, fun entertainment and hot beverages, then die at 70, or do you want to live a life of measuring everything daily in a state of panic that you might get cancer and then die at 74 - that is, if you don't accidentally walk in front of a bus when you're 40?

        Do the fun, good food, entertainment, hot/cold beverages and all that stuff you may die at 70. Agreed.

        But how will you die? You will probably die of some medical complication attributed to your lifestyle choices which makes such a hit on your quality of life that death is probably a better option.

      • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @04:33AM (#52327563)

        Very similar to what my mother's coworker once said, that cancer is simply nature's failsafe to make sure that eternal life just does not happen. Survive all the other stuff and the cancer WILL get you eventually.

        Not necessarily; much research over the recent decade suggests that we die, eventually, of old age, when the body runs out of viable stem cells, because every time they divide, they lose a bit of the telomeres: the bit of DNA at the end of each chromosome, if my memory serves me. When the telomeres are too short, the cells can divide anymore. There was an interesting article a few days ago, about one of the world's oldest women - apparently all of a certain line of cells in her blood could be seen to arise from just two, individual stem cells, where a younger person would have - thousands? Certainly a lot more than two. When we run out of stem cells, we can no longer repair our bodies.

        Cancer is seen more in the elderly for that very reason too. Every time cells divide, there is a certain likelyhood that something goes wrong; in a sense we all have cancer all the time. Fortunately our immune system is able to keep up, clearing out the failed cells that don't kill themselves in apoptosis. If the immune system is under too much pressure, whether it is because of lack of nutrition, stress or repeated tissue damage, the risk of cancer increases, so it isn't surprising if consuming too hot food or drinks can contribute to cancer. Every time a tissue is damaged, it is replaced by tissue that is slightly less well supplied with blood, which means that the immune system cannot patrol the tissue as effectively: cancer cells get the chance to survive longer.

        Here's the really, REALLY big question.

        Do you want to live a life of fun, good food, fun entertainment and hot beverages, then die at 70, or do you want to live a life of measuring everything daily in a state of panic that you might get cancer and then die at 74 - that is, if you don't accidentally walk in front of a bus when you're 40?

        Can you only enjoy life by hurting yourself? I used to drink too much and eat loads of unhealthy things; I feel I enjoy life so much more now that I don't touch alcohol or eat foods with too much sugar, salt and fat. And it's not about feeling holier-than-thou, it has much more to do with the fact that I can enjoy doing things I would not have been able to before, like walking for a whole day in nature or working on one of my projects that involve heavy lifting and strenuous work. Getting drunk or high is fun, but only for a short while - it's like pissing youself to keep warm.

      • Do you want to live a life of fun, good food, fun entertainment and hot beverages, then die at 70, or do you want to live a life of measuring everything daily in a state of panic that you might get cancer and then die at 74 - that is, if you don't accidentally walk in front of a bus when you're 40?

        If the last 20 of those 70 years are going to be plagued by vascular and respiratory diseases, and every other kind of malady caused by heavy drinking, unhealthy food smoking and lack of exercise, then those years are useless and painful.

        I'd much rather take just a bit more care, get some exercise and have some actual quality of life, even in old age.

    • I had a customer some years ago who was an oncologist. He told me that the reason we see so much cancer these days is that we live long enough to get cancer.

      -jcr

      And here I thought I would never find a more pointless statement that would somehow beat "everything causes cancer these days"...

    • Yeah, this seems to be yet more "science" designed to get media attention and therefore more funding. I'm absolutely certain the WHO has a PR firm.
    • Thanks for your indifference.

      My dad died of oesophageal cancer, so at least for me it's a grave concern. He did live to a reasonable age but the last 18 months of his life were miserably wretched and I wouldn't wish the condition on my worst enemy.

      The survival rates are despairingly low whilst the public consciousness seems to focus on the 'sexier' cancers such as prostate, breast, melanoma, bowel, lung etc

    • and I read fark. Sorry man, but come on. Where do I begin? Just because you might live long enough to be exposed to a risk doesn't make the risk go away. My Mom died of lung cancer from cigarettes in her mid-50s. By that logic it's OK to smoke because 100 years ago she would have died in child birth in her 40s. The correct response is to keep identifying and eliminating unnecessary risk factors. Smoking's one. Drinking stupidly hot coffee is probably another. I like it when people tell me these things. With
  • Given my love of five-alarm chili, I have to suspect that at the other end of the system, things might not go well for me.

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:24PM (#52325677) Journal
    The non-sensational headline for those of us that don't care for them would read: "Repeatedly damaging the tissue lining the esophagus with very hot liquids probably contributes to an increased chance of that tissue becoming cancerous."
    • by pavon ( 30274 )

      You quote applies just as much to hot tea as it does to hot coffee.

      • My dad was a tea-drinker and had the cancer.

        It's also prevalent in the South American nation of Uruguay where they drink copious amounts of yerba mate.

        • Yerba Mate, of course, in my limited experience, being served hot enough to strip the enamel off your teeth, (or so it seemed). I assume its served so hot to cover up the fact it tastes like lawn clippings.
          • It's an acquired taste, to be sure. To me it's more like oolong tea strained through a used athletic sock! :)

            I prefer it to that other southern cone rite of passage, Fernet - ghastly stuff, even diluted with Coke.

      • So does the original headline.

    • Or even more plain (and obvious): "More cell replication leads to higher chances of mutation."

  • If there weren't also benefits to hot drinks. They are pleasant and evolution tends to tie pleasure to desirable traits.

    • Yes, that explains why people love sugar so much...
      • Most of the world is more worried about starvation than obesity.

        • Obesity isn't the concern with sugar, though most people seem to think it is. Sugar, be it fructose, sucrose, or glucose in thigh enough levels, is processed in your liver the same way as alcohol and leads to the same liver damage if consumed in excess. Further, most regions of the world concerned with starvation have less access to sugar-loaded processed and shelf-stable foods and, thus, are at lower risk of obesity even if they suddenly had record harvests resulting in plentiful food for all.

          Don't get m
  • 65 C (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khchung ( 462899 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:35PM (#52325729) Journal

    149F = 65C, guess which unit was used originally?

  • Cold brewed coffee is not only economical & convenient, it's also got less acidity than hot brewed.

    I like mine from TJs - 1 bottle lasts about 1-2 weeks for a small-time drinker like me.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:41PM (#52325761)

    just tell me, again, why I would care what some aging band has to say about coffee?

  • Human Pain Threshold (Score:5, Informative)

    by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:52PM (#52325813)
    The human pain threshold for temperature is 106-108F (41-42C). Unless you're a masochist who likes to shotgun boiling hot liquids, so long as you don't get a painful sensation, you're fine. Realize that even if the liquid is much higher than this temperature, so long as you sip small quantities of it, it will rapidly cool to something closer to your body temperature when it enters your mouth. Most folks instinctively do this, because pain sucks.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      I can't say I knew for certain that the human pain threshold was 106-108F, but everything else you said seems like common sense to me. I have to think the WHO was just looking for an excuse to publish another new "finding" more than providing anything really useful for people.

      An awful lot of people don't even drink their coffee without diluting it with some creamer or milk first, and/or adding sugar and stirring. All of those processes will serve to drop its temperature too.

      But everyone I know takes really

      • by zmooc ( 33175 )

        I didn't RTFA but it seems somewhat unlikely to me that the hot liquid itself directly causes cancer. Wouldn't it be more likely if some kind of thermally induced (chemical) reaction, for example with saliva, would produce carcinogenic compounds?

        • It is likely just repeated tissue damage that requires regeneration: repeated sun exposure/sunburn, drinking too much (ie repair of liver damage), breathing in fine dust that tears up your lungs. You could probably increase likelihood of some odd cancer by repeatedly pricking yourself over and over. Basically, cancer is your cells growing when they shouldn't. Anything that promotes normal cell growth is going to promote cancer growth, as well.
  • I want to know how California will label coffee now.

    This product is may or may not be know in the State of California to cause cancer

  • The quote from the report is

    These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of oesophageal cancer and
    that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible

    I don't know where they got 149F from, the report says 70C, which is 158F

    • I don't know where they got 149F from, the report says 70C, which is 158F

      What The Fine Report [www.iarc.fr] - or, rather, The Fine Press Release - says is both

      Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey, and South America, where tea or maté is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70 C), found that the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk.

      and

      “Very hot” refers to any beverages consumed at a temperature above 65 C. See the Q&A for more details.

      What The Fine Q&A [www.iarc.fr] says is:

      Experimental studies w

  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @08:00PM (#52325875) Homepage Journal

    I'd listen to this WHO guy if I were you all. He's a Doctor, after all.

  • Anything drunk or eaten above 149 F (65 C) is potentially dangerous - not only tea and coffee.
  • "...drinking coffee, tea and other beverages at temperatures hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit may lead to cancer of the esophagus."

    That's why I always cool my coffee to 148 degrees before drinking it. Ha ha, suck it, cancer!!

  • I drink hot tea, no milk, no sugar - lashings of the stuff. I happen to have a laser thermometer here so I decided I would find out the comfortable temperature that I start drinking and the time it takes to get there for a 250ml ceramic cup - the kettle is boiling now.

    Temperature of ceiling 19C, walls 20C. Windows open, no breeze heater or AC on in my office. 8 seconds from boil to pour.

    • Time start, 0 sec - 77C inside the cup, 48C outside cup
    • 1:30 72C i, 64C o
    • Now I really like a tea, and I'm usually wantin

    • by Tomahawk ( 1343 )

      Interesting. I would suggest that if you are just taking a sip when the tea is above 63C, then it would have lost several degrees by the time it hits your throat. Unless, that it, you swallow that sip really fast.

      It interesting that the comfortable temperature to drink the tea is around 59C/60C. Our pain receptors tend to react to thing that are dangerous to us, and it's almost as if they are already saying that the tea it too hot and is dangerous. It would be interesting to see similar data from some o

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @09:47PM (#52326421) Homepage

    Forcing your body to replicate cells more often leads to a higher chance of a mutation - that couldn't be more obvious. The more times you attempt a clean copy, the more chances for a bad copy. I think this would apply to any case where cells are constantly being damaged and repaired (sunburn).

    • Physical exercise/exertion also leads to more cell damage and repair - but that is known/suspected to lower chances of cancer. So not any case, just some.

  • Missing from the highly biased summary. The WHO actually downgraded the rating for coffee stating that their is no conclusive evidence to suggest drinking coffee causes cancer
  • There's already a long suspicion that the correlation between regular consumption of hot yerba mate tea in south america and incidence of esophageal cancer may be causative. It wasn't confirmed back in the days because there were other substances in the tea that might explain the higher incidence of cancer. Now there seems to be confirmation of this suspicion.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • 65C (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tomahawk ( 1343 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @03:26AM (#52327397) Homepage

    They actually said 65C, in case anyone was wondering why it was a strange number (149F).

    I really wish people would report what WHO actually said, and then put the equivalent units in brackets:

    "... at temperatures hotter than 65C (149F) ..."

    I also wish people would report in SI units always. Put local units also, but always have SI, either as the primary number, or a secondary in brackets. The preference would be SI as primary and local in brackets as secondary. (remembering, of course, that 6.6bn people use SI units, and 350-400m use those other ones)

    But that just my wish... I know it'll likely not happen. But one can always wish and hope...

  • And if the cameras become 'publicly identifiable'

    You mean "'When the cameras become publicly identifiable"'?

  • Considering that only a handful of countries in the world use Fahrenheit, it would have been nice for the editors to have both Celsius and Fahrenheit in the summary text.
  • When there is a perfectly good SI measurement for Temperature?

  • by stooo ( 2202012 ) on Thursday June 16, 2016 @07:07AM (#52327847)

    >> 149 degrees Fahrenheit
    I don't drink at Fahrenheit temperatures, so I should be safe.

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