You may want to put down that steaming cup of Joe as it can increase your chance of developing a specific type of cancer, the World Health Organization has announced so.
Beverages surpassing 65 degrees Celsius may increase the risk of tumours in the esophagus, which resides in the chest area below the throat, according to USC's Mariana Stern and 22 other scientists from 10 countries.
"Enjoy your coffee or mate, but make sure it's not very hot," said Stern, adding "There is physical evidence that very hot beverages can contribute to cell injury in the esophagus and thus contribute to cancer formation."
The group scoured more than 1,000 studies on over 20 different types of cancer. The scientists concluded drinking any beverage hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit is "probably carcinogenetic to humans," placing scalding hot drinks in the same category as DDT, frying food at high temperatures, consumption of red meat and the human papillomavirus.
According to the National Coffee Association, coffee waiting to be served should sit at 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit (82-85 degrees Celsius). That's around the temperature McDonald's restaurants served coffee before a well-known lawsuit prompted the fast food chain to sell coffee at a temperature of 10 degrees lower - still far above what the researchers consider safe.
The scientists downgraded a cup of joe from "possibly carcinogenic" and hot mate from "probably carcinogenic" to safe for consumption as long as neither is scalding hot.
In 1991, the WHO gave coffee that classification based on a much smaller database of studies. Now, the scientists highlighted some studies that associated coffee with cancer when the real culprit was probably tobacco smoking, which is highly correlated with heavy coffee drinking, according to the report.
The researchers estimate that a cup of coffee a day decreases the risk of liver cancer by 15 percent. In other words, the scientists are giving coffee lovers a free pass to drink as much coffee as their bladders can handle.
Their results are published in the journal Lancet.