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