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Medical English / 29. 6. 2009

Some Like it Hot! / By Tom Secrest

If you’re a film buff or a Marilyn Monroe fan, then the title of this article brings to mind the film, which is considered by many, or perhaps most, to be the greatest American comedy film of all time. The film is from 1959 and stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

However, as it turns out, this article has nothing to do with film and to all of Marilyn’s fans, I offer my heartfelt apologies. Instead, this article is about a bit of research (British Medical Journal, March 2009), which emanates from Iran and concerns the dangers of drinking exceedingly hot beverages.

In Iran, black tea is an extremely popular drink, just as it is in many countries around the world. Just like those countries which share Iran’s propensity for hot tea, Iran has a particularly high rate of esophageal cancer, in fact one of the highest in the world. At first blush, there appeared to be a relationship between consumption of the popular refreshment and the occurrence of esophageal cancer; so researchers at Tehran University set out to decipher the riddle of the increased incidence of esophageal cancer among tea drinkers.

As it turns out, it’s not the tea at all, it’s the temperature. The hotter the tea and the faster it is imbibed, the greater the risk of developing esophageal cancer. Those who consumed scalding hot tea (temperatures greater than 70 ̊C) had an eight-fold increased risk. The association between tea drinking and esophageal cancer declined with temperature and no association was noted, between tea drinking and cancer, in those who consumed lukewarm tea (56–60 ̊C). Of course the same would logically also apply to other hot concoctions such as coffee or soup. A good rule of thumb is to pour it, and then wait at least 4 minutes before drinking it.

The connection between cancer and temperature is not well understood and certainly warrants further study. There is speculation that regular scorching of the esophagus maintains a level of chronic inflammation, which over time could lead to increased susceptibility.

So the next time you’re in the mood for something hot, rent the movie, and enjoy it with a nice tepid cup of tea.


  • buff – nadšenec
  • considered – považovaný
  • heartfelt – srdečný, upřímný
  • apologies – omluvy
  • emanate – pocházet
  • exceedingly – mimořádně, nadmíru, neobyčejně
  • propensity – náchylnost, dispozice, tendence, sklon
  • esophageal cancer – karcinom jícnu
  • declined – pokles
  • appeared to be – zdál se být
  • riddle – rébus, hádanka
  • scalding – horký, pálivý
  • lukewarm – vlažný, netečný, lhostejný
  • concoctions – odvar, směs
  • scorching – horký, palčivě horký
  • susceptibility – vnímavost, citlivost, schopnost, náklonnost


About Tom Secrest / Tom Secrest online



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