Source: U.S. News and World Report
The World Health Organization‘s research arm has downgraded its classification of coffee as a possible carcinogen, declaring there isn’t enough proof to show a link to cancer.
“I’m not really sure why coffee was in a higher category in the first place,” said Owen Yang, an epidemiologist at Oxford University who has previously studied the possible link between coffee and cancer. “The best evidence available suggests that coffee does not raise the cancer risk.”
Experts convened by the Lyon-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also concluded that there was inadequate evidence to suggest coffee might cause cancer, according to a letter published in the Lancet Oncology. Drinking very hot beverages, however, just might.
The IARC announced in a report that drinking “very hot” beverages of any kind could potentially raise the cancer risk, and it classified them as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
In particular, the IARC cited countries including China, Iran and those in South America, where teas such as the bitter herbal infusion mate are traditionally drunk at extremely high temperatures — above 155 degrees Fahrenheit) — considerably hotter than drinks would normally be served in cafes across North America and Europe.
Dana Loomis, deputy head of the IARC program that classifies carcinogens, said they began to look into a possible link after seeing unusually high rates of esophageal cancer in countries where drinking very hot beverages is common. He said that even at temperatures below 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit), hot beverages can scald the skin, and that consuming drinks at even higher temperatures could be harmful.
In particular, it cited countries including China, Iran and those in South America, where teas such as the bitter herbal infusion mate are traditionally drunk at extremely high temperatures — above 155 degrees Fahrenheit — considerably hotter than drinks would normally be served in cafes across North America and Europe.
“Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption are much more significant for reducing cancer risk than the temperature of what you’re drinking,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Brawley said the cancer risk posed by drinking hot beverages was similar to that posed by eating pickled vegetables.
Still, he welcomed the news that coffee would no longer be deemed a possible carcinogen.
“As a heavy coffee drinker, I have always enjoyed my coffee guilt-free,” he said. “But now there is scientific evidence to justify that.”