WHO: It’s Not the Coffee in Hot Coffee That Causes Cancer …

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The World Health Organization reversed its warning about coffee being carcinogenic. But here's why you should be careful how you prepare it and other hot drinks.

If you’re a coffee lover, this will come as good news: Drinking coffee probably doesn’t cause cancer.

That’s according to a new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.

In issuing its long-awaited report, the IARC reversed its 1991 warning that described coffee as “possibly carcinogenic” and linked the beverage to bladder cancer. The IARC team reviewed more than 1,000 studies before issuing its latest findings, which also noted that coffee has some health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancers of the liver and uterine endometrium.

“(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 program that classifies carcinogens, told a news conference.

But before you brew another pot of coffee, you should know that the IARC is warning that consuming very hot drinks (hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit) on a regular basis — including water, coffee, tea, etc. — can potentially put people at risk. It’s important to note that people in Europe and North America typically don’t drink their beverages that hot.

“These results suggest that drinking very hot beverages is one probable cause of esophageal cancer and that it is the temperature, rather than the drinks themselves, that appears to be responsible,” Dr. Christopher Wild, IARC director, said in a statement.

Of course, the easy solution to this seems to be to have patience and wait for your drink to cool a little before consuming it.

Geoffrey Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, told The New York Times that the IARC’s new report doesn’t go quite far enough to dismiss the bad rap coffee got from the agency’s 1991 report.

“What the evidence shows overall is that coffee drinking is associated with either reduced risk of several cancers or certainly no clear increase in other cancers,” Kabat explained. “There’s a strong signal that this is probably not something that we need to be worrying about.”

Are you a coffee drinker? What do you think about the agency’s findings? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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