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Letting tea cool for four minutes 'cuts risk of throat cancer'

. 3/26/2009

Tea drinkers should let their cuppa cool for four minutes to cut the risk of cancer, say researchers.

A study shows drinking very hot tea increases the chances of oesophageal cancer by up to eight times.

The disease affecting the tube connecting the throat to the stomach kills more than 500,000 people worldwide each year.

The most common type, oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), is mainly caused by smoking and alcohol, but drinking hot beverages may be a risk factor.

The study, reported in the British Medical Journal, was carried out in Golestan Province in northern Iran, where people typically drink tea at 70c or higher. It examined 871 people in the area, which has a high instance of OSCC.

It found that drinking tea with a temperature of between 65c and 69c doubled the risk of the disease.

At 70c or more, there was an eight-fold increased risk. The researchers recommended letting tea cool for two to four minutes, to around 60c.

There was no relationship between the amount of tea and the cancer risk.

The report said: 'Our results showed a noticeable increase in risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma associated with drinking tea hot.

'A large proportion of Golestan inhabitants drink hot tea, so this habit may account for a substantial proportion of the cases of oesophageal cancer in this population.

'Informing the population about the hazards of drinking hot tea may be helpful in reducing the incidence of oesophageal cancer in Golestan and in other high risk populations where similar habits are prevalent.'

Bill Gorman of the UK Tea Council said research among South American tribes had found a similar result, but their tea drinking habits were a far cry from Britain.

He said 'It's a cultural thing, it's not about tea drinking but consuming scalding liquids which scar the oesophageal tube and predispose to cancer.

'In these cultures tea leaves are boiled in a pot on a fire, poured into a cup and drunk immediately without milk.

'Here 96 per cent of consumers use tea bags, which diffuses some of the heat, and a similar proportion add milk, which brings it down to an acceptable temperature.

'Letting it brew for flavour will reduce the temperature still further' he added.

Mr Gorman said more people are drinking green tea, and other leaves that don't need milk, but the flavour is best enhanced by using water that has gone off the boil.

Dr David Whiteman, head of the cancer control laboratory at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said in an editorial that tea drinkers should not be alarmed by the findings.

Waiting five minutes for freshly boiled tea to cool down before drinking virtually eliminates extra risk, he said.

'These findings are not cause for alarm, however, and they should not reduce public enthusiasm for the time honoured ritual of drinking tea.

'Rather, we should follow the advice of Mrs Beeton, who prescribes a five to 10 minute interval between making and pouring tea, by which time the tea will be sufficiently flavoursome and unlikely to cause thermal injury,' he added.

Almost 80 per cent of Britons are tea drinkers.

The British tea industry is estimated to be worth more than £700million a year. Britons get through an estimated 165million cups every day.

Previous research suggests tea drinking lowers the risk of some other kinds of cancer, heart disease and Parkinson's disease.


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Eating chicken is a recipe for a longer life, say scientists


Eating chicken rather than red meat may prove the key to a longer life, according to new research.

White meat slightly reduces the overall risk of dying or being killed by cancer.

But consuming too much red or processed meat produces a 'modest' increase in death risk from all causes. It also increases the risk of dying specifically from heart disease or cancer.

The study, one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken, was conducted among more than half a million people in the US.

Their eating habits were studied over 10 years, which also took factors such as smoking and physical activity into account. During the study 47,976 men and 23,276 women died.

Typically 11 per cent of deaths in men and 16 per cent of deaths in women could be prevented if people reduced their red meat consumption, scientists from the U.S National Cancer Institute, Maryland concluded.

The authors, led by Dr Rashmi Sinha wrote in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine: 'Future research should investigate the relation between subtypes of meat and specific causes of mortality'

There are several ways that eating meat can damage your health.

Cancer-causing compounds are formed when cooking meat at high temperatures, and meat is also a source of saturated fat which has links with breast and bowel cancer. Meat consumption is also known to affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

However, lean meat is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins.


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Listening to music 'could save stroke victims' sight'


Stroke victims could help save their damaged sight by listening to their favourite music, research suggests.

Patients found their vision improved much more when they heard songs they liked than ones they disliked, or silence.

Neuroscientist Dr David Soto said the 'positive emotional effect' of music could result in better signalling in the brain, increasing awareness.

In the study, three stroke patients who had lost half their field of vision identified coloured shapes and lights much better while listening to their preferred tracks.

Dr Soto, of Imperial College London, said: 'One of the patients chose Kenny Rogers, another Frank Sinatra and the third a country rock band. It's not a particular kind of music that's important, as long as the patient enjoys it.'

An estimated 150,000 people a year have a stroke in the UK, and up to 60 per cent suffer damaged sight.

In one task in the study, patients were asked to press a button when they could see a red light appear.

One pointed out the light in 65 per cent of cases while listening to music he liked, but only recognised it 15 per cent of the time under the other conditions.

Dr Soto said the research suggested that making patients happy could be key to improving their sight.


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Eating oily fish once a week slashes prostate cancer risk


Fish oil may protect men against potentially deadly aggressive prostate cancer, a study suggests.

Researchers found that a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel, could reduce the risk of developing the disease by about 60 per cent.

It also reversed the effect of an inherited gene which is known to increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

The study compared the diets of 466 men diagnosed with the disease and 478 healthy men.

It found men who ate 'dark' oily fish, rich in omega-3, one to three times per month had a 36 per cent lower risk of prostate cancer than those who never ate dark fish.

Eating oily fish more than once a week had an even bigger protective effect, leading to a 57 per cent reduction in risk.

A similar trend was seen for different levels of shellfish intake. Shellfish also contains omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 intake also had a major impact on the effect of a hazardous variant of the COX-2 gene, which promotes inflammation and is known to be linked to prostate cancer.

Men with the variant have a more than five-fold increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. But a high consumption of oily fish effectively wiped out this risk factor.

Study leader Professor John Witte, from the University of California in San Francisco, said: 'The COX-2 increased risk of disease was essentially reversed by increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake by a half a gram per day.'

Omega-3 fatty acids may help to prevent prostate cancer by combating inflammation, the scientists believe.

There is increasing evidence that inflammation influences cancer risk. Inflammation, which is an inappropriate immune system response, can be affected by diet, bacterial and viral infections, and genetic make-up.

The findings were reported today in the journal clinical Cancer Research.

Around 35,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK and 10,000 die from the disease.


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Using flower power to trap mosquitoes


MOSQUITOES are infamous for sucking blood, but mostly they prefer sucking nectar from flowers.

Thomas Kollars at Georgia Southern University at Statesboro in the US is using flower power to trap mosquitoes, which spread malaria, dengue, yellow fever and other infections. He has designed a flower-shaped plastic trap in blue, green, red and black - all colours Kollars says attract mosquitoes. In the middle of the disc is a pad soaked in sweet fluid laced with Bt, an insecticide that is not toxic to other animals. A fine screen keeps out other insects but allows the mosquito's proboscis through. The discs have killed mosquitoes in lab tests and Kollars is now testing them in fields in Puerto Rico.

The results will be presented at a meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association in New Orleans next month.

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