Acrylamide and coffee – Coffee Brands now displaying warnings? What the heck? Do we need to worry?
A Los Angeles Judge has recently ruled that coffee brands in California such as Starbucks must now warn customers that their coffee contains acrylamide – a chemical that potentially causes cancer.
Does Acrylamide cause cancer?
Yes. Some rodent research appears to show that acrylamide can cause DNA damage that may lead to a heightened risk of cancer. But according to Harvard Health human studies have not to date presented the same results.
Based on what has been done to date, should we be worried about these warnings? We consult with Dr. Ed Giovannucci, who researches links between lifestyle factors and cancer risk at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition to give us the low-down.
Should we avoid or else opt for coffee products with lower acrylamide concentrations?
“The health effects of coffee have been very well studied. A remarkable number of studies show that coffee is associated with lower risks of diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, liver disease and some neurological diseases.
On balance, the many compounds in coffee seem to be beneficial to overall health. The levels of acrylamide from coffee are extremely low compared to levels that cause cancer in some animal models.”
How about cutting down on acryalmide in food?
“Epidemiologic studies that have studied acrylamide intake, from coffee and from diet in general, do not suggest an increased risk. This includes studies that have also measured acrylamide in blood cells (as a measure of actual exposure in people). At this point, I would not consider it an important concern. Items including coffee and healthy grain products (e.g. whole grain) that may contain some acrylamide can be part of a healthful diet.”
“Of course, new evidence can always change perspectives, but for now there is a large and robust body of evidence that suggests that acrylamide from coffee and diet should not be an important factor when selecting a healthful diet.”
Looks like we are good to still enjoy our coffee, despite the warnings in California. Happy with this result, we finish up with some benefits of coffee.
Health Benefits of Coffee
Protects against Cardiovascular Disease – 3-5 cups
Moderate coffee consumption was looked to protect against CVD risk, with the lowest CVD risk at 3 to 5 cups per day.
Protects against Parkinson’s Disease – 3 cups
Caffeine consumption showed a decreased risk of Parkinson’s Disease. Best-dose for protection looked to be at 3 cups per day.
Protects against Liver Disease – any consumption
Showed to reduce risk for hepatocellular carcinoma, most common type of liver cancer.
Protects against Type-2 Diabetes – 6 cups
6 cups/day of coffee was associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee consumption were both associated.
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