Coffee lovers in California, where a judge ruled that sellers have to send creepy warnings about cancer risks, are plunging into problems. 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 in recent years, and many studies even suggest that they can help with health.
"Coffee is at least neutral, and if anything, there's pretty good evidence of the benefits of coffee for cancer," Dr. Edward Giovannucci, nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The World Health Organization's cancer agency has removed coffee from the "possible carcinogen" list two years ago, although it says evidence is insufficient to rule out a possible role.
The current flap is not about coffee itself, but a chemical called acrylamide (ah-KRILL-ah-mide), which is made when the beans are roasted.Government agencies call it a probable or probable carcinogen, based on animal research, and a group that is asked to sell coffee in front of a Californian Warning Law passed by voters in 1986.
The problem: No one 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, the exposure is probably not that high," and probably should be your weight 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 could reduce that."
Here's what's known about the risks.
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 high-carbohydrate foods contain it as a by-product of roasting, baking, toasting, or frying.
The FDA's acrylamide concentration tests showed 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, tested at 121 parts per billion
WHAT IS THE RISK?
The "likely" or "likely" carcinogen label is based on studies in animals given high levels of acrylamide 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 acrylamide directly – and decided it was unlikely that coffee caused breast, prostate or pancreatic cancer, and it seemed the risks to liver and to reduce uterine cancer. The evidence was insufficient to determine its effect on dozens of other cancers.
THE CALIFORNIA LAW
Since 1986, companies have been publishing warnings about chemicals known to cause cancer or other health risks – more than 900 substances are on the state's list today – but what a "significant" risk is is in dispute.
Coffee sellers and other defendants in the lawsuit, which spurred the verdict on Thursday, have several weeks to challenge or appeal.
The law has potential "Mixing up people at risk of consuming coffee is very similar to smoking," said Giovannucci.
The International Food Information Council and the Foundation, an organization Englisch: emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 120 & lang = en. emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 263 & lang = DE The industry says the law confuses the public because it does not set any risk levels, adding that the US – Nutritional guidelines say that up to five cups of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet.
Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, said: "The problem here is the dose and the amount of Acrylamide, which is contained in coffee, which is really very small compared to the amount of smoking tobacco. I do not think we should worry about having a cup of coffee.
Amy Trenton-Dietz, a public health specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that the California verdict is contrary to what science shows when people suggest that, if any, coffee is for some species is protective of cancer, "she said. "As long as people do not add much sugar or sweeteners, coffee, tea and water are the best things to drink."
This Associated Press series was produced in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content
Marilynn Marchione can be tracked on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP
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