One of the central pillars of Chinese civilization has recently been called into question — is drinking hot water actually bad for you?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently released their findings in a study which explored the potential connection between hot beverages and cancer. They found that drinking beverages above 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) may actually increase your risk of cancer, particularly esophageal cancer, because the hot liquid may burn delicate tissues in your esophagus, damaging the cells.
So, “hot drinks” — including coffee and tea — joins the ever-growing list of things that could give you cancer. Here’s a tip, save yourself the trouble and wait until it cools down a bit before drinking.
Of course, drinking hot water is a fundamental part of life in China. Some say that the practice stems from traditional Chinese medicine, which recommends hot water as a cure-all for kick-starting the digestive system and regulating the all-important blood flow. While others say it is more the result of unclean tap water in China, which must always be boiled before being consumed.
The vital importance of hot water can be during China’s annual legislative sessions where dozens of waiters scattered around the Great Hall of the People in Beijing serve officials hot water each March.
However healthy it is considered to be, hot water may just be contributing to the fact that almost 3 million Chinese died from cancer last year, while 4 million more were diagnosed. Of course, these days, it seems like just about everything causes cancer, including paper napkins and toilet paper.
Still, you can never be too careful. We’ll be insisting on drinking cold water this summer, just in case.
By Katie Ngai
[Images via CCTV News]