Cancer ResearchNutrition & Cancer

Coffee and Cancer—Again?

A new law in California revives the debate about coffee and cancer. However, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, hundreds of studies show that coffee doesn’t cause cancer in humans.
June 2018 Vol 4 No 3

In March 2018, a California judge ruled that coffee sellers must now label their products with a warning about the potential risk for cancer associated with coffee, because the chemical called “acrylamide,” which is produced when coffee beans are roasted, has been linked to cancer in rats. In response, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR; published an article to explain that hundreds of scientific studies show that coffee is not associated with any cancer risk.1 “Although acrylamide increases cancer risk for lab animals at higher doses, the studies that have measured levels of acrylamide in the blood in humans, including in high coffee consumers, have shown no hint of increased cancer risk,” the AICR says.1

According to the AICR, coffee contains compounds that can block carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and may help to kill cancer cells; therefore, those who like drinking coffee should not worry, the AICR notes. It adds that some studies indicate that coffee may actually lower the risk for some types of cancer.1 However, adding a lot of sugar and other sweeteners to the coffee can increase the risk for some cancers, because being overweight or obese increases the risk for 11 types of cancer.

“On a ‘cancer worry’ scale from 0 to 10, coffee should be solidly at 0 and smoking at 10; they should not have similar warning labels,” wrote Edward L. Giovannucci, MD, ScD, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.2


1. American Institute for Cancer Research. Coffee and your cancer risk. May 3, 2018.
2. Giovannucci EL. Coffee doesn’t need cancer warning. March 30, 2018.
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Last modified: August 6, 2018

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