There have been a number of frightening news reports recently claiming that the consumption of tea and other hot liquids may be linked to increased risks of cancer. One study in China involving almost 500,000 participants linked drinking hot liquids to an increased probability of getting esophageal cancer, after studying subjects for nearly ten years. For tea drinkers, the headlines caused by this report and those like it are more than frightening. The media has been in a frenzy trying to cover these stories, but is there really anything to back them up? It turns out that the story is far less worrying once we know the details.
In today’s clickbait style online news world, headlines that shock readers and grab attention tend to be the ones deemed most successful.When competing with millions of other articles on the internet, news organizations are often pushed into the unsavoury practice of making misleading headlines for their stories in order to garner attention. In a world that doesn’t have time to read past the first paragraph of an article, the results of this kind of “journalism” can have devastating effects on society and the way information is processed. Headlines that read, “Tea Drinking is Linked to Cancer” show only part of the story. Instead of trying to inform readers, these articles merely aim to shock. Reading through articles and digging further is the only way to get the truth.
Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage on earth, following water. Almost every major culture (both East and West) has adopted tea in at least one shape or form. In this seemingly ever more divided modern world, tea remains one of the things that can still be relied upon to bring people together over something they enjoy. When news stories about tea and cancer come up, the China study I referenced earlier is the most often cited source for the findings. However, despite its popularity, after reading into it further, the full story begins to come to light.
While it is true that the China study was able to find a correlation between consuming extremely hot liquids and an increased risk of esophageal cancer, the increased risk was only to be found in individuals who smoked and consumed alcohol on a regular basis. Both being infamous cancer-causing habits, alcohol and tobacco use seemed to be the main culprits of the cause of cancer, with extremely hot tea being just one small factor. The study proved what we already knew, that is to say, it proved that healthy habits lead to better health and unhealthy habits lead to poor health.
In our modern society, there is a disturbing trend of using dubious studies and so-called “science” to scare people into believing that one single thing is putting their entire health at risk. In reality, health is the result of all of our habits and lifestyle choices put together. The foods we eat, the levels of stress in our day, our choices to drink or smoke, and the amount of exercise we get every day all play important roles in determining our health. If an individual smokes, drinks, eats poorly, doesn’t exercise or get enough sleep, and drinks tea that is too hot, the tea is the least of their worries. The reality is that people who already practice happy and healthy lifestyles don’t have to worry much about their daily cup of tea having any negative impact on their health.
If even after reading into studies like the China study, you still feel apprehensive about drinking tea, the choice is entirely yours. Before writing it off entirely, however, consider taking a look at your daily habits and see if there are things that can be improved to lower your risk of cancer and other health issues. Tea can actually help people regain control of their health by serving as a replacement for unhealthy sodas. If you consistently practice a healthy lifestyle and visit your doctor regularly, the chances that hot tea will have any negative impact are beyond low. That said, health is a highly personal thing and you should always make the decision you feel is best for yourself.
One last thing to mention is that for many people, tea contributes greatly to an increased quality of life. For millions (you may even say billions!) of people around the world, tea is a way to relax at the end of a long day and spend time with those people who matter most. Stress is one of the deadliest killers out there and every day, tea helps people to relax and put joy into their increasingly busy lives. In the end, if tea makes you happy and improves your standard of living, then, by all means, it is doing its job and you have no reason to stop enjoying it.