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For this article I have to talk about coffee. News from earlier this year has people on edge about a cancer causing agent in coffee, so it seemed like a good time to shed some comforting light on this delicious beverage.
I’m just going to jump in and cut to the chase on this topic. Coffee ain’t our problem folks, and there literally is no proven case of human cancer attributable to the carcinogen at question.1
If you haven’t heard about this coffee/cancer issue, the gist is that all coffee companies in California must carry a cancer warning label now due to a chemical, acrylamide, that’s produced during the coffee roasting. A nonprofit group was responsible for suing and bringing this to court. The same group and law firm sued potato chip manufacturers for similar reasons because acrylamide is present in many other baked and fried foods. Ultimately the judge decided that the coffee companies didn’t overwhelming prove that “consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”1234
Myself and actual real experts have found this puzzling. Why on earth must coffee prove an overwhelming benefit to human health? What about microwaves? Or lawn fertilizer? Or milkshakes?!
But, have no fear. A recent quote by Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH, of the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says it all: “There are serious health issues we should be concerned with, and coffee is not one of them. The evidence for coffee preventing cancer (e.g. colorectal cancer, liver cancer, not to mention reduction in diabetes risk) is far stronger than any evidence supporting an increase in risk.”4
This sentiment is echoed by dozens of other experts including the American Cancer Society4 National Cancer Institute5 and one of the absolute most thoughtful and respected health resources from Dr. David Katz of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and founder/president of the True Health Initiative1. By the way, I highly recommend the True Health Initiative for any of your health related questions.
So, the experts have spoken and shaken their heads… have no fear and drink on coffee-lovers. My parting quote is by Dr. Katz:
“Any risks [of coffee drinking] are trivial compared to many others you take daily.”
Take care of yourself and keep chugging!
About Aaron Witwer:
Aaron Witwer is Team Lead, Health Management Services and a Senior Health Management Consultant at Oswald Companies. He has over 15 years of combined healthcare and health management experience, providing population health management strategy and administering various wellness programming to a variety of clientele; from small manufacturing firms to Fortune 500 companies.
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- True Health Initiative, Health Between the Headlines newsletter #17, April 2018, Vol 3, issue 4