Business of Well-being

Coffee Does Not Cause Cancer... Or Does it?

Coffee lovers, rejoice! (Well, at least momentarily.) After reviewing the results of more than 1,000 scientific studies regarding a possible correlation between coffee and cancer, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are less likely to develop liver and uterine cancers.

However, don't run to your corner coffee shop and chug down a quadruple mocha latte just yet. Additional studies conducted by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) show drinking hot beverages like coffee may actually lead to esophageal cancer. The recent discovery has led to yet another hot debate about the health benefits of drinking coffee.

Beverages that are served at temperatures above 158 degrees Fahrenheit, or 70 degrees Celsius, are considered hot enough to be possibly carcinogenic, according to IARC director, Christopher Wild, Ph.D. In addition to coffee, several different types of teas are also considered potentially cancer causing due to the high temperatures at which they are typically consumed.

Areas of the world where drinking hot tea is an integral part of the culture, such as Asia, South America, and East Africa, have higher than average rates of esophageal cancer-something experts believe is directly related to drinking very hot tea.

According to IARC scientists, beverages should be consumed below 149 degrees Fahrenheit, or 65 degrees Celsius. However, the National Coffee Association (NCA) recommends coffee be served at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, or roughly 93 degrees Celsius.

Many consumers may think switching to refrigerated or "iced" coffee can help them avoid the potentially carcinogenic effects of drinking hot coffee, these beverages typically contain large amounts of cream, sugar and other sweeteners that can increase one's risk for diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Ultimately, the IARC studies suggests the best way to enjoy your cup of coffee, and all of its related health benefits, is to simply let it cool down a little before you drink it.


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