On cold winter days, I love to eat some hot chicken noodle soup. Though winter is officially over, the spring weather can get quite blustery at times, such as today. Hot soup is just the thing to warm your insides as well as your outsides.
But, in my impatience, I sometimes swallow a mouthful of burning liquid. It is painful as it travels down my esophagus, finally settling into my stomach. I always imagine the damage as it is moving downwards. In my mind’s eye, I can see the lining turning red and inflamed. It always worries me. And quite rightly.
Hot liquids are linked to esophageal cancers. Well, very hot, steaming liquids. The kind that is painful. The reason for this is that the heat does injure the esophageal lining. The damaged cells are at risk of become cancerous. It is similar to the case of acid reflux. People suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and PUD (peptic ulcer disease) are at risk of esophageal cancers because the stomach acids that reflux into the esophagus cause damage. Tobacco and alcohol also inflict similar damage and smokers and drinkers are at high risk as well.
So if you want to lower your risk of developing esophageal cancer, which is incurable even with surgery, don’t smoke or drink alcohol, and be sure your hot liquids are sufficiently cooled (below 65C or 135F). That includes tea, coffee, soups, etc. But I would also extend that to all foods – make sure you blow on your food to cool it before stuffing it into your mouth. Never swallow it piping hot!