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Coffee Cancer Warning: What science says about cancer risk, coffee and acrylamide



For coffee lovers in California, where a judge ruled that sellers need to publish creepy warnings about cancer risks, it seethes. But how should we be afraid of a daily cup of Joe? Not so, as some scientists and evidence suggest.

Scientific concerns about coffee have eased over the past few years, and many studies even suggest that it can help your health.

"Coffee is at least neutral, and there is good evidence of the benefits of coffee in cancer," Dr. Edward Giovannucci, nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. David Agus, head of the Westside Cancer Center at USC, says he thinks it's too early to put this kind of warning on coffee.

"If you make a bold statement that" X can cause cancer "if there is no data in that human, to me it causes panic rather than informed knowledge," he said "CBS this morning."

The World Health Organization cancer agency has removed coffee from the "possible carcinogen list" two years ago, though it says evidence that is insufficient to rule out anything possible

The current flap is not about coffee itself, but a chemical called acrylamide, which results from roasting the beans. Government agencies call it a probable or likely carcinogen based on animal research, and a group called to warn coffee sellers of a California law passed by voters in 1

986.

The problem: Nobody knows which values ​​are safe or risky for people. The US Environmental Protection Agency sets acrylamide limits for drinking water, but there are none for food.

"One cup of coffee a day, exposure is not likely to be that high," and probably your habit should not change, said Dr Bruce Y. Lee of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "If you drink a lot of cups a day, that's one of the reasons you should consider reducing it."

Here's what's known about the risks.

The Chemical

Start with the biggest known risk factor for cancer – smoking – which produces acrylamide. In the diet, French fries, potato chips, crackers, biscuits, cereals, and other carbohydrate-rich foods are by-products of roasting, baking, toasting, and frying.

The acrylamide concentrations tests at the Food and Drug Administration found that they range from 175 to 351 parts per billion (one level of contamination) for six tested coffee brands; the highest was for a kind of decaffeinated coffee crystals. By comparison, French fries in a fast food chain ranged from 117 to 313 parts per billion, depending on the location. Some commercial fries had more than 1,000.

Even some baby foods contain acrylamide, such as teething biscuits and crackers. A brand of organic sweet potatoes that was tested at 121 parts per billion.

What is the risk?

The "probable" or "likely" carcinogen label is based on animal studies to which acrylamide has been heavily added in drinking water. But humans and rodents absorb the chemical at different rates and metabolize it differently, so their relevance to human health is unknown.

A panel of 23 scientists convened by the WHO Cancer Board in 2016 considered coffee – not directly acrylamide – and decided it was unlikely that coffee caused breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer and that this seemed to lower the risks for liver and uterine cancer. The evidence was insufficient to determine its effect on dozens of other cancers.

The California Law

Since 1986, companies have been required to publish warnings about chemicals known to cause cancer or other health risks – more than 900 substances are on the market today's list – but what a "significant "Risk is, is contentious.

Coffee sellers and other defendants in the lawsuit, who challenged the verdict on Thursday, have a few weeks to challenge or appeal.

The law "has potential to do" "Mixing up people at the risk of something being coffee is similar to smoking," says Giovannucci.

The International Food Information Council and Foundation, an organization The industry says that the law confuses the public because it does not set any risk levels, and adds that the US dietary guidelines say that up to five cups of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet 9002] Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said: "The problem here is the dose and the amount of acrylamide that would be present in the coffee, which is really very small compared to the amount of smoking tobacco. I do not think so, we should worry about having a cup of coffee.

Amy Trenton-Dietz, a public health specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the California decision was in stark contrast to what science shows.

"Human studies suggest, if anything, is coffee protective for some types of cancer, "she said." As long as people do not bring in lots of sugar or sweeteners, coffee, tea and water are the best things people can drink. "


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