Coffee likely only to cause cancer if very hot, World Health Organisation says

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had previously rated coffee as “possibly carcinogenic” but changed its mind.

It says its latest review found “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect” of coffee drinking and pointed to some studies showing 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, the deputy head of the IARC’s Monograph classification department, told a news conference.

At the same time, however, the IARC presented other scientific evidence which suggested drinking anything very hot — about 65 degrees Celsius or above — including water, coffee, tea and other beverages, probably does cause cancer of the oesophagus.

Lyon-based IARC, which last year prompted headlines worldwide by saying processed meat can cause cancer,  reached its conclusions after reviewing more than 1,000 scientific studies in humans and animals.

There was inadequate evidence for coffee to be classified as either carcinogenic or not carcinogenic.

IARC had previously put coffee as a “possible carcinogen” in its 2B category alongside chloroform, lead and many other substances.

The US National Coffee Association welcomed the change in IARC’s classification as “great news for coffee drinkers”.

The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, whose members are six of the major European coffee companies, said IARC found “no negative relationship between coffee consumption and cancer”.

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