16/06/2016 3:51 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST

Drinking 'Very Hot Liquids' May Cause Oesophageal Cancer

Coffee and tea will not cause the disease, unless you drink them piping hot.

Drinking coffee doesn't cancer, but drinking anything that's really, really hot may.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Drinking coffee doesn't cancer, but drinking anything that's really, really hot may.

It seems like every couple of months there's a new link to the dreaded c-word, so what could it possibly be now?

According to the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, it's any liquid that could be described as "very hot".

While the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was unable to find conclusive evidence to suggest coffee itself causes cancer, a review released on Wednesday of 1000 humans and animals found that any liquid consumed when hotter than 65 degrees celsius is probably doing carcinogenic damage to your oesophagus.

"As a guide, a beverage at that temperature is likely to be uncomfortably hot for some people to drink.

Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, said in a press release: "These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of oesophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible."

The study found that drinks such as mate, an Argentinian tea infusion, and other drinks from parts of Asia, South America and Africa develop carcinogenic effects such as oesophageal tumours when drinking temperatures rise above 65 degrees, according to the ABC.

Dana Loomis, the deputy head of IARC's monograph classification department, said in a press conference: "[This] does not show that coffee is certainly safe ... but there is less reason for concern today than there was before,

"It doesn't matter what the liquid is . . . What matters is the temperature."

So how serious is this, and is 65 degrees celsius really drinkable?

Bruce Armstrong, emeritus professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney doesn't believe so.

"The probable mechanism here is chronic inflammation of the tissues that are affected by the very hot liquids," he told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Very few people would be able to drink any significant quantity of liquid at a temperature of 65 degrees or above, it'd be too hot and at most they'd simply sip it."

The findings come a year after the IARC reported that consumption of processed meats such as bacon can also be carcinogenic, but the risk is lowered when eaten in moderation.

David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Britain's University of Cambridge, said: "In the case of very hot drinks, the IARC concludes they are probably hazardous, but can't say how big the risk might be," according to the Australian Financial Review.

"This may be interesting science, but makes it difficult to construct a sensible response."