Skip to main content

Tea Causes Cancer! (Or Not!)

This headline from the *usually* reputable, non-clickbait WebMd had me nearly spitting out my tea:

Hot Tea Linked To Esophageal Cancer Risk

I drink between 1-5 cups of tea a day, have a bit of a fascination with health, love to read news, and have never seen a study or article suggesting tea was anything but beneficial to your health, so of course I was clicking on that link.

Thankfully, the lead gives you the true story right off the bat: 

 Tea lovers who take their daily cup scalding hot are raising their chance of having esophageal cancer if they also drink alcohol every day or if they smoke, say researchers.

Couple things here: the "scalding hot" from the lead and study is not the "hot" the article promises. If you know much about how cancer works, you probably wouldn't be too surprised to find out that repeated scaldings could lead to cancer.  Cell damage causes replication and requires repair, and that process could well go awry - leading to cancer.  

But that is a minor quibble compared to what follows.  So if you scald yourself every day, and irritate that skin further by introducing alcohol or smoke (already a well-known carcinogen), you could raise your risk of cancer.

This also appears a ways down in the article:

The risk for esophageal cancer was doubled in those who drank piping hot tea each day and smoked tobacco, compared with nonsmokers who drank tea only occasionally.

"Piping hot" doesn't seem like the most scientific term.  Regardless, how is tea to blame here?  The risk of cancer doubled between those who didn't use a well-known carcinogen and those who did, and also drank tea.  But, um, the cause here would more likely seem to be the known cancer agent, wouldn't it? 

If you manage to read to the bottom of the page, and click over to page 2, you see this:

Although the study showed no higher odds of esophageal cancer in participants who drank only tea every day -- scalding or not -- the study authors emphasize that "chronic thermal injury to the esophageal mucosa may initiate carcinogenesis," or the change of normal cells to cancer cells.

Hey, look, its exactly what I mentioned in my 5th graph!  

How could this be better?  Well, the headline should probably note that hot tea may further the risk of esophageal cancer posed by alcohol and smoke.  At the very least, the later two should probably be mentioned, since they appear to be the causative agent.  

Something like: Hot Tea May Up Cancer Risk Posed By Alcohol, Smoke

Also, a doubled risk sounds really scary.  But you also have to consider where the risk started.  A doubling from .01 to .02 isn't really that big, even if it is double.  Here, we are talking about 1,731 cases of esophageal cancer in 456,000+ participants.

Color me unconcerned.

*sips hot green tea


Popular posts from this blog


A couple months ago I posted about a push up challenge, and at the risk of pushing this blog into a self-help section, I'm going to post something else that I really enjoy that I think might help a reader or two (all two of you!). currently runs what it calls "Mid-Week Meditations," which is a short story on some piece of ancient wisdom.  Oooohhhhhhh, its ancient.  Just so you know, I'm not one to fall for the whole "ancient" is best meme.

But this is legit good stuff.  They take a quote or concept from a philosopher in the past - think Marcus Aurelius - translate what the sometimes mumbo jumboish phrase means, and then kind of detail how you can apply it.

This week, its all about how to train your mind for constructive thinking.

One thing I love about the series is that it doesn't dress up the knowledge too much.  It doesn't make it out to be more than it is, or suggest that its great simply because some Greek guy said it 2,000 years …

The Dark Months

The holidays are over.  It only seems like life is over.

There is a solid three month period where holidays of various degrees are hitting you one-two-three style.  You have Halloween, which takes some of the sting out of the cooling temperatures and the disappearance of summer.  You have Thanksgiving, with rare foods and the promise of Christmas. 

Then you have a month of prepping and joy for Christmas.  You are so busy, you hardly notice how cold it has gotten.  And this year it got pretty darn cold.  And then Christmas itself.  My wife and I take a week off between Christmas and New Years, so we have that. 

Its a period so full of life.  And then the aforementioned NYE - when the cold decided to take it up a notch.

With triplets, its a little like being shot out of a cannon and taking three months to land.

But when you land, you land firmly in what I call the Dark Months.

There are no more holidays.  Yes, I realize MLK and Presidents Day are in January and February, and yes, I know…

Stop Telling Kids They Are Perfect The Way They Are

Parenting is super tricky.

You do a thing you think is great - look, I've set very strict guidelines that will make my kid a super adult and prepare them for the world - and all you do is instill them with the thought that you never let them have fun and kept them from being able to adjust to the world as it is.
OTOH, you give them no rules and be their friend, and they long for you to have given them direction and guidance and pushed them so that they didn't end up with no skills and a habit of laying around on a couch all day.
It is really the ultimate no win situation in a game that feels incredibly important to win.  As a result, I'm hesitant to give hard and fast advice on how to parent a specific child.
But there is one piece thing I think we parents need to stop doing across the board: stop telling kids they are "perfect the way they are."  
This is also a tricky, mine filled field to traipse through, because honestly, self esteem requires that we like who…