The list of things which can cause cancer seems to be ever-increasing these days, and coffee was no exception.
Previously the energy lifting drink was considered ‘possibly carcinogenic’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Now, as reported by Reuters, the World Health Organization agency is somewhat softening their warning, telling drinkers that it is the heat at which they consume coffee which is of concern.
Deputy head of IARC’s Monograph classification department, Dana Loomis, announced at a conference:
(This) does not show that coffee is certainly safe … but there is less reason for concern today than there was before.
Evidence was presented that any beverage drank at 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher ‘probably’ does cause cancer of the oesophagus.
Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cause of cancer globally, and considered one of the deadliest forms with 400,000 deaths reported in the year 2012.
Gregory Hartl, the WHO’s official spokesman in Geneva, told Reuters their official advice was to ‘be prudent’ and do not consume drinks or food which are ‘scalding hot.’
David Spiegelhalter, professor of Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, is concerned the latest instruction is confusing.
Last year the IARC said that bacon is carcinogenic, but it became clear that when eaten in moderation it is not very risky. 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.
So, if you are concerned but confused, either let your hot drinks cool or maybe even get your caffeine fix from an iced version.