Coffee doesn’t cause cancer unless extremely hot

A study by the WHO finds coffee reduces the risk of breast, uterus, and liver cancer.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Many take it for granted that the manner in which it is grown, processed, and prepared for consumption affects the final product and determines its impact on health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has said there is no evidence that drinking coffee at “normal serving temperatures” causes cancer.

It has, therefore, downgraded its previous warning that labeled coffee as carcinogenic. But it said all “very hot” drinks are likely carcinogenic.

The US National Coffee Association applauded the change in IARC's classification as "great news for coffee drinkers".

After reviewing over 1,000 studies the agency said that drinking “very hot” beverages was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” At temperatures of 65 degrees celsius or higher there was an increased risk of cancer of the oesophagus, it found.

“Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate is traditionally drunk very hot (at about 70 C) found that the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk,” said the IARC.

And in lab studies, extremely hot water at 65-70 C increased oesophageal tumours in mice and rats, said the agency.

Video Source: Harvard University

However, there is a reason for coffee drinkers to celebrate: The analysis found that at “normal” temperatures, some data indicated a lower risk of cancer of the breast, uterus, and liver. Studies have also found that coffee had powerful antioxidant effects and other health benefits.

Coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops. And according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) most pesticides are "known or probable carcinogens."

In his article about the therapeutic health benefits of coffee, best-selling author of health and nutrition books, Dr. Mercola writes, “You should select only coffee beans that are certified will obliterate any positive effects if you consume coffee that’s been doused in pesticides or other chemicals.”

He further added: “When it comes to coffee, the darker the roast, the better. It’s often the case that foods with the darkest pigments also offer the most robust benefits to health, and dark roast coffee, such as French or Italian Roast, or roasts used to make espresso or Turkish coffee, are no exception.”

A study in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal found that dark coffee was more effective than light roast coffee in reducing weight as well as  restoring blood cell vitamin E and glutathione.

TRTWorld and agencies