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Coffee causes cancer

What science tells us

The links between coffee and cancer have been researched for decades. Much of the concern comes from the fact that coffee can contain a chemical called acrylamide, which is formed during the roasting process. Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals exposed to very high doses, although there is no epidemiological evidence of acrylamide in food causing cancer in humans (ACS) .

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that the association between coffee and cancer was “unclassifiable” due to the differences between cancer sites. Coffee drinking is not a cause of breast, pancreatic, or prostate cancer and may even reduce the risk of endometrial, head and neck, colorectal, and liver cancers (ACS) . There is also evidence that drinking coffee is linked to lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (ACS) .

How to reduce your risk

There appear to be health benefits to drinking coffee, yet the risks remain unclear. More research is needed to fully understand coffee drinking and cancer risk. If you are worried about acrylamide, you could reduce and limit the amount of food you eat that is cooked at high temperatures (during frying, roasting, and baking) for longer periods of time (ACS).

There is also a strong association between tobacco use and coffee consumption. According to the American Cancer Society, reducing and stopping smoking are the most important ways to reduce cancer death worldwide (ACS).

Bottom line

Coffee drinking is linked with a lower risk of endometrial, head and neck, colorectal, and liver cancers. Coffee drinking may also reduce the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

American Cancer Society (ACS): Coffee and cancer
American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR): Coffee and cancer


Published: June 24, 2021
Verified/updated: January 26, 2022