Here’s what science says about the risks of coffee and cancer

By Kristen Underwood — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

Can coffee cause cancer?  


Fortunately, The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently declared their support exempting coffee from California's Prop 65 legislation. A statement was released by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, falling in line with organizations such as the National Coffee Association, proposing that the required cancer warning on coffee is more likely to mislead consumers rather than inform them.

Trouble is brewing for all coffee admirers in California, where a Los Angeles judge ruled that a cancer warning must be visible to all consumers. This stems from a 30-year-old law known as Proposition 65, which requires companies selling products that expose people to cancer risk to post warnings of such exposure. Unless proven harmless, any product containing a substance that appears on the California carcinogenic list must post a warning notice. Amongst many other substances on this list, is one called Acrylamide.

During the roasting process, coffee beans release Acrylamide (also common in many other foods). In significant dosages, this can be toxic and even carcinogenic. Pump enough of any chemical into an animal or human, and you’ll eventually get to a point where that substance in dangerous. However, in coffee, it produces such a small amount that it shows no signs of danger, much like the amount in a piece of toast or potato chips. 

Unfortunately, the LA judge considered evidence provided by coffee shop defendants not enough to prove that the chemical does not pose any health risks. Because of this, they must post the warning with potential of being fined up to $2,500 per person exposed each day during which they sell coffee without warning consumers.

Although this is a scary warning, the cup of joe is likely to win out. Coffee is more than just a beverage. It’s the taste, the ritual, the high, the energy, the benefits. So far, there is no evidence that the amount of acrylamide in coffee poses a threat. In fact, coffee has several other potential health benefits that have been proven time and time again.

  • Lowers risk of Cirrhosis or Liver Cancer
  • Lowers risk of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Reduced risk of cancer overall
  • May lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • May protect you from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

It is likely that you may start to take your coffee with a warning, however, cream and sugar will always be optional. 

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