Watch Your Tongue! Hot Drinks Could Be Carcinogens


Is it time to start plopping a few ice cubes in your steamy morning joe? According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), very hot drinks probably cause cancer. But you don’t have to kiss your go-to brew goodbye—the temp of your hot beverages likely are not enough to cause concern. Phew.

Not Too Cold, Not Too Hot

If you order your Starbucks cappuccino extra hot, pay attention. According to a study published in The Lancet Oncology in June 2016, very hot beverages are likely carcinogens. “Very hot” isn’t a particularly scientific phrase, true. The researchers involved in the study concluded that beverages measuring 149ºF (65ºC) and hotter are the ones sitting the cancer danger zone. According to the American Cancer Society, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other hot beverages in the U.S. are usually drunk at temperatures lower than this.

The drink that researchers were most concerned with was maté, a type of tea popular in South America, Asia, and Africa that is traditionally drunk at very hot temperatures. The ACS reports “a link between the drink and esophageal cancer, but only when it was served at the traditional, very hot temperature.”

Coffee Drinkers Are Having A Good Day

The same group of researchers that lumped very hot beverages in with the group of all possible cancer-causing agents actually took coffee off that list, where it had been since 1991. Cue the collective sigh of relief. They said that, due to the wider scientific evidence base we have today, you shouldn’t feel uneasy about downing your morning joe. “Basically this is a reassuring message for coffee drinkers,” Dr. Alberto Ascherio, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, tells TIME.

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