Cancer Warning for Acrylamide Coffee

Cancer Warning for Acrylamide Coffee

Terrible news for coffee drinkers:

29 March 2018, California Court Judge Elihu Berle has decided that Starbucks and different operators that offer coffee should incorporate notices saying it contains a substance could cause cancer malignancy. It is because coffee contains acrylamide, a chemical byproduct of roasting coffee beans. This rule is in favor of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, which in 2010 first filed lawsuit that sought to require coffee sellers/operators, such as Starbucks, BP, Gloria Jean’s and 7-Eleven, to warn customers about the cancer risk of coffee “contains acrylamide”.

Documents of National Coffee Association (NCA) Statement on CERT Lawsuit:


Coffee Cancer Warning NCA_Statement_CERT_Lawsuit

What is “Acrylamide” ?

Then, what is “Acrylamide”, it is a known cancer-causing agent that is generated in espresso beans when they are roasted and this kind of chemical used mainly in certain industrial processes, such as in making paper, dyes, and plastics, and in treating drinking water and wastewater. There are small amounts in some consumer products, such as caulk, food packaging, and some adhesives. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.

Acrylamide can also form in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment, details as explained in American Cancer Society (ACS).

Despite the Berle’s decision ruling in California, the science around acrylamide and cancer is inconclusive. While some animal research has shown that acrylamide can cause DNA damage that may lead to a high risk of cancer, the evidence is less clear in humans. Based on the research, “there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake,” according to the ACS.

On the other side, the court did not agree that the coffee companies argued in Court that the level of acrylamide in coffee drink should be considered as safe, under the US law and that the health benefits of coffee actually outweigh the risk.

Is acrylamide to be regulated?

FDA regulates the amount of residual acrylamide in a variety of materials that come in contact with food, yet there are currently no regulations on the presence of acrylamide in the food itself.

In 2016, FDA issued guidance (not regulations) to recommend the food industry reduce the amount of acrylamide in certain foods.

The EPA regulates acrylamide in drinking water and it has set an acceptable level of acrylamide exposure, that is low enough to account for any uncertainty in the data relating acrylamide to cancer or health problems. Where for the environment, exposure to acrylamide is regulated by the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

But doesn’t coffee prevent cancer?

Coffee is actually proven as it contains antioxidants to help protect the body against free radicals (potentially cancer-causing molecules), according to the Mayo Clinic. Some compounds in coffee may also fight against inflammation, including cancer. That is to say, the research around coffee and cancer is mixed or contradictory. Some studies have even discovered that protective benefits associated with the beverage.

Stop or Keep drinking coffee?

Despite the controversy discussion and the Court ruling, research was published to show that drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It may also boost your longevity by contributing to the preventive effects on type-2-diabetes (T2D) in coffee drinkers and be of therapeutic interest.

While it is very confusing and coffee has been an everybody habit, “with a coffee a day, put your burden at bay”, we should keep our mind open until a more conclusive study is published, the coffee drinker should weigh the risks and benefits when drinking coffee in your daily life.


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