The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made worldwide headlines last year when it released a report saying processed meat could cause cancer. It was a revelation which devastated bacon lovers everywhere and even if we didn’t all start ordering spinach at brunch, it did force many of us to reevaluate, even reduce our intake of processed meat.
So, you can imagine the relief among the world’s java lovers after the IARC revealed in June there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect” of drinking coffee. In short, according to the IARC, coffee does not, we repeat, does not cause cancer.
It’s a reversal of the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency’s previous warning about coffee. Also, a recent report actually pointed out some studies showed coffee may actually reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
“This does not show that coffee is certainly safe … but there is less reason for concern today than there was before,” Dana Loomis deputy head of the IARC program that classifies carcinogens said.
But, there are concerns if you prefer a scorching hot cup of joe.
“Very hot” drinks linked to cancer
The IARC’s report was based on the findings of 23 scientists who evaluated the carcinogenicity of drinking coffee and other hot beverages.
They looked into a possible link between “very hot” beverages and cancer after seeing unusually high rates of oesophageal cancer in countries where drinking “very hot” beverages was common.
According to Mr Loomis, studies suggested carcinogenic effects probably occurred at drinking temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius or above.
“Very hot beverages might cause a thermal injury in the throat that could eventually promote the growth of tumours, but that evidence was limited,” he said.
The IARC’s director Christopher Wild clarified “it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible”.
IARC reviews “confusing”: Professor
Professor David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge told Reuters he was concerned IARC reviews like this confused people.
“Last year the IARC said that bacon is carcinogenic, but it became clear that when eaten in moderation it is not very risky,” he said.
“In the case of very hot drinks, the IARC concludes they are probably hazardous, but can’t say how big the risk might be.
“This may be interesting science, but makes it difficult to construct a sensible response.”
Good coffee news welcomed by experts
Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, is one of many health experts happy about the IARC’s findings.
He told Fox News we should be more worried about quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.
“As a heavy coffee drinker, I have always enjoyed my coffee guilt-free,” he said.
“But now there is scientific evidence to justify that.”
We’ll drink to that.