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Home / Health & Science

Very hot tea can cause throat cancer

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy NATHAN OCHUNGE AND TIMOTHY MAKUTOH | Mon,Jun 14 2021 09:00:00 EAT
By NATHAN OCHUNGE AND TIMOTHY MAKUTOH | Mon,Jun 14 2021 09:00:00 EAT

 

People from Western Kenya drink the hottest tea anywhere in the world.

Throat cancer cases are rising in Western Kenya, a situation pegged on excessive intake of illicit brew, smoking and using firewood to cook, according to medical experts.

The other cause of oesophagus cancer is the propensity for people from Western Kenya to drink very hot tea.

Vincent Lunaro, a researcher at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital Cancer Centre, said at least 400 patients were diagnosed with different types of cancers out of the 6,000 people who came for cancer screening since January 2018.

The Kakamega Cancer Centre is the only one in the region serving about 10 million people and the rising cases of throat cancer, according to Lunaro, is attributed to “use of firewood in cooking therefore one gets exposed to carbon monoxide”. This makes the throat lining cells to mutate to adapt to new conditions.

About 70 per cent of throat cancer cases are in men due to smoking and excess consumption of illicit brews, majorly among low-income earners.

Judy Ombati, a nurse in charge at Kakamega Cancer Centre, attributed the rising throat cancer cases to taking hot tea, coffee and milk, adding that milk bought from supermarkets had additives used as preservatives compounding the problem. She noted that a study at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet County revealed that people from Western Kenya drink the hottest tea anywhere in the world, exceeding 72 degrees Celsius.

Throat cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide with a high distribution in Central Asia, Western Kenya and parts of South Africa.

Most patients like Mzee Ali Idi Tamba from Shibuye in Kakamega County was diagnosed with throat cancer in July 2018. He was told his drinking and smoking since the late 1950s was to blame. Tamba survives on painkillers as he doesn’t have a medical cover. He eats via a pipe inserted in his throat.

  –Nathan Ochunge and Timothy Makutoh

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