Does your morn­ing cof­fee re­ally come with a side order of can­cer risk?

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers Asides & Insides -

Does a can­cer risk lurk in your morn­ing cup of joe? Many java ad­dicts are skep­ti­cal about a Cal­i­for­nia judge’s re­cent rul­ing re­quir­ing can­cer warn­ings on cof­fee pur­chased in that state.

The rul­ing came af­ter an eightyear le­gal strug­gle by the Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search on Tox­ics, or CERT. The tiny not-for-profit (which just hap­pens to share an ad­dress with the lawyer who filed the law­suit) took the cof­fee in­dus­try to court un­der a Cal­i­for­nia law that re­quires warn­ings if chem­i­cals known to cause can­cer or birth de­fects are present.

Cof­fee-roast­ing cre­ates a chem­i­cal byprod­uct called acryl­amide that’s a car­cino­gen; it’s found in many foods that are cooked. CERT fought a sim­i­lar le­gal bat­tle over potato chips sev­eral years ago, and the in­dus­try agreed to re­move the chem­i­cal.

Many, in­clud­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als, op­pose the court’s cof­fee rul­ing. “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,” Dr. Ed­ward Gio­van­nucci, a pro­fes­sor at the Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health, wrote on his blog for the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute for Can­cer Re­search.

Or as MIT can­cer re­searcher Robert A. Wein­berg told a Los An­ge­les Times colum­nist, “Cof­fee is con­nected to can­cer devel­op­ment by the fact that cof­fee is some­times drunk by liv­ing peo­ple and only liv­ing peo­ple de­velop can­cer.” ●


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