Recently a fellow holistic nutritionist alerted me to a news article that she felt more people should know about.  It surprised me and thought it was worth looking into and sharing.  I believe that there is so much information out there and interesting or useful information can easily be overlooked or perhaps becomes overwhelming and we tune out.  Hence the reason for my newsletter is to write about one topic only and about things we might overlook or not pay attention to.

What has me so interested? – drinking hot liquids like tea and coffee can increase your risk for esophagus cancer according to several studies.  Rather surprising that drinking hot liquids can result in a cancer risk.  It seems that drinking hot beverages can be irritating to the esophagus – a muscular tube that goes from the throat to the stomach.  Science is not exactly sure how this might put one at risk.  The theory is that hot drinks damage the throat cells.

I drink mostly tea with the occasional cup of coffee.  I bought a kettle a couple of years ago that allows you to heat the water to a particular temperature.   For green tea I use 175 degrees F and steep for a couple of mintues.  I usually press 200 degrees F for my herbal teas.  The herbals steep anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the herb.  So it can be considerably cooled down by the time I drink it.  And yet there was a time not too long ago where I had a sip and I literally could feel my throat burning – it was horrible.  I was actually scared because it was so painful.

Since then I have instinctively waited for my tea to cool down before sipping.  I am certainly a lot more cautious.  And of course, there can be times where I forget.  For this reason I have slightly reduced the temperature on my kettle for green and herbal teas.

So how hot is too hot?  The W.H.O. International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends that hot drinks be around 60 degrees C or 140 degrees F.  

While this seems a bit concerning, let’s also have some perspective.  Esophageal cancer in Canada is low and does not even make the top 10 leading cancers.  The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 2,300 esophageal cancer cases in 2019.   There can be other concerns with the esophagus such as GERD (reflux disease) or heartburn or trouble swallowing food (eosinophilic esophagitis) and no indication that hot beverages play a role in these issues.

In my research I could not find anything about the temperature of food or things like soup that have been studied.  It appears hot beverages were all that were studied.  I have certainly burnt my mouth with soup more than once as well as swallowing food scorching hot – an example of what can happen if you don’t chew your food!  I think that if hot tea over 65 degrees C puts you at risk then I think soup and food could equally have a risk.  If it is the temperature that is the risk rather than the commodity, then clearly more research is needed.

In the meantime, I am not going to be overly concerned about this except to say I will now consider the temperature of my food, soup and beverages and be more cautious about eating it too hot. If you are some one who always has to drink really hot drinks, soup or food, then you might want to consider letting it cool it down. 

From the heart,

Heart to Heart Nutrition offers nutritional consulting, a 12 week online sleep coaching program, health breakthrough coaching where deep-rooted behaviours impede the journey back to self-care, self-love and self-worth.  Other services include hypnotherapy and reiki.