Does coffee cause cancer?

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Photo courtesy of Reader's Digest

A California law, Proposition 65, requires businesses to label products with a reasonable warning about the use of any chemicals in which the state has deemed cancerous.

One of these chemicals includes acrylamide, a chemical found in anything cooked at a high temperature. This chemical is specifically found in coffee beans after the roasting process. Based on only one rodent study, acrylamide could be classified as a carcinogen, or a substance capable of causing cancer. This new law forces California based coffee companies to label their products as cancer-causing.

The problem though is that coffee does not actually cause cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, at high doses, the chemical has the potential to cause cancer, but the amount found in food is harmless. As the original study about this chemical was conducted on a rodent, there is no proof of a human study that suggests acrylamide is cancerous at any realistic dose. Additionally, most people have been consuming the chemical their whole lives without knowing it, as it is found in fruits, vegetables, snack foods, and soda (theverge.com).

Since news broke about the “cancer-causing” elements of coffee, there has been a public panic. Medical Professor John Ioannidis of Stanford University, stated, “I’m not the least concerned about coffee being a problem for causing cancer… The amounts of acrylamide people are exposed to in their coffee are so low that it’s hard to say it’d cause cancer,” he says.

Joseph Galati, medical director for the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, agrees with Ioannidis. “People tend to gravitate towards stories about coffee causing cancer since drinking coffee is part of so many people’s routines… We make a big hoopla about it, but I really do not believe that there’s any validity to this.”

In turn, coffee actually has many health benefits. This includes protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and heart failure. Coffee has also shown to reduce headaches and migraines, and give your body a healthy dose of antioxidants. Just be sure you are drinking coffee in moderation, and limit your sugar and cream.