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W.H.O. Reverses Position on Coffee Causing Cancer

Coffee: Studies Show It to Be Beneficial for Health

There’s been a firestorm of rhetoric at intervals over the past century regarding coffee and its supposed dangers, and just as much supposition about its incredible health-boosting advantages. The Atlantic reported:

“In the early 1900s, doctors and health agencies warned that caffeine was essentially ‘poison,’ and that drinking coffee would cause ‘nerve storms,’ according to a 1912 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Nervous women, the newspaper cautioned, should abstain from coffee altogether. ‘Unsteady nerves are foes of beauty,’ it said.

… Over time, the debate about coffee — fueled by a combination of legitimate research, junk science, marketing and the rumor mill — has amounted to what the writer Andrew Revkin has called ‘whiplash journalism,’ in which sweeping conclusions about what’s good or bad for you contribute to a mess of contradictions.”3

Many in the scientific community have claimed for decades that coffee actually provides multiple health benefits. In fact, large reviews on the topic have come to the same conclusion that coffee can be erased from the “harmful” list of foods and placed on the “advantageous” list. According to The New York Times:

“Last year, a panel of scientists that shaped the federal government’s 2015 dietary guidelines said there was ‘strong evidence’ that three to five cups of coffee daily was not harmful, and that ‘moderate’ consumption might reduce chronic disease.

Another group, the World Cancer Research Fund International, reported that coffee protects against multiple types of cancer. And several systematic reviews of studies involving millions of people have found that regular coffee drinkers live longer than others.”4

The evidence is fairly convincing that coffee may not only lower your cancer risk, but also your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders.

Reports, Reviews, Evidence and Inconsistencies

It wasn’t that long ago — 1991, to be exact — that coffee was termed a “possible carcinogen” linked to bladder cancer. The recent announcement included the acknowledgment that there was simply a lack of evidence that coffee might cause cancer at all.

As a matter of fact, early reports on coffee had compared its hazards with those of lead and diesel fuel.

Those previous studies hadn’t taken into account that many of the coffee drinkers under scrutiny were also heavy smokers, according to Dana Loomis, Ph.D., first author of the report and deputy head of the WHO program focused on cancer-causing substance classifications. In addition, more up-to-date studies have become available.

When the group of 23 scientists from 10 countries met in Lyon, France, the issues surrounded the evidence for or against coffee, as well as “mate,” a tea-like, high-caffeine drink popular in South America.

The group reviewed more than 1,000 studies, submitted over decades, the upshot of which: coffee failed to show detriment to health in relation to prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers, as had been previously conjectured. In the case of uterine and liver cancers, coffee was linked to a lowered cancer risk.

Twenty other cancer types showed “inadequate” evidential links of coffee being a carcinogen; many showed beneficial associations.