Drinking hot beverages at temperatures of 65C or above probably causes cancer, a UN agency has warned. The International Agency for the Research on Cancer (IARC) said hot drinks are "probably carcinogenic" to humans.
This means that there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans as well as sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animal models.
Fifteen years ago, the IARC had classified coffee as "possibly carcinogenic", but now says there is no evidence that it actually causes malignant tumours to form. Instead, scientists say it is the temperature of the drinks - be it coffee, tea or anything else - that may increase the risk of oesophageal cancer.
The UN body reviewed more than 1,000 research papers - half of them epidemiological studies - to reach this conclusion.
Among the cancers studied were breast, pancreatic, prostate, endometrial cancer, liver and oesophageal cancers. Higher cancer risk was observed when the beverages were drunk at a temperature of 65°C or more, particularly the case of oesophageal cancer.
Consuming coffee was however not associated in itself to a higher risk of developing any of those diseases. In some cases, it even appeared to have a protective effect on individuals. The IARC experts say more research is needed on whether coffee has anti-cancerous properties or not.