Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world with two billion cups consumed every day. To many busy bees and employees, this beloved drink is a must-have in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon and nighttime, too. A cup of joe provides a much-needed energy boost to start the day and focus on important tasks. However, in recent years, more people are asking questions like “is coffee safe to drink?” and “can coffee cause cancer?”
With new research emerging on the link between coffee and cancer, it’s important to understand the potential health risks before continuing your daily consumption.
Acrylamide: A Bridge Between Coffee and Cancer
One of the most significant links between coffee and cancer involves acrylamide. This chemical is a byproduct of Maillard reactions, meaning any food prepared at high temperatures may have it. From french fries and potato chips to roasted nuts and some types of bread, many of our favorite foods contain acrylamide. When consumed in large amounts, this chemical may cause mutations in the DNA, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In caffeine, roasting coffee beans at high temperatures forms acrylamide. The darker the roast, the higher the concentration of acrylamide. Some studies suggest that drinking coffee increases the risk of bladder, endometrial, liver, and oral cancers, while other studies have found no link between coffee intake and cancer development. In addition to its potential carcinogenic properties, some researchers believe that consuming high levels of acrylamide may cause reproductive issues and neurological damage.
Note that most of these studies used mice instead of humans as experimental subjects, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about caffeine’s long-term health implications.
Cadmium and Lead in Coffee
Another concern is coffee’s potential link to toxins like cadmium and lead. These harmful heavy metals make their way into the environment through industrial processes such as mining, fossil fuel burning, smelting, and others. Unfortunately, some farmers have no choice but to grow and harvest coffee beans near places with high concentrations of metal contaminants.
How to Drink Coffee Without the Health Risks
By making these small changes, you can minimize your exposure to acrylamide, cadmium, and lead while still enjoying your daily cup of java.
- Avoid Dark Roasts
Dark roast coffee beans contain a higher concentration of acrylamide than lighter roasts. If you want to reduce your exposure to this anticipated carcinogen, brew light roast or medium roast coffee beans instead. It may take some time to get used to the lighter flavor profiles, but if it means lowering your risk of cancer, it will be worth it.
- Choose Organic Coffee
Typically, organic coffee beans do not contain pesticides and other chemicals that can increase your cancer risk. Organic coffees also tend to have a richer flavor profile than non-organic options, so they can be surprisingly delicious.
By choosing organic coffee, you are reducing your exposure to any additional toxins or chemicals that could potentially raise your risk of developing cancer. Organic coffee also contains more B vitamins, potassium, niacin, magnesium, and other micronutrients than regular coffee. Not only are you avoiding potential health hazards, but you are also consuming more vitamins and minerals.
- Look for Fair Trade Certified Coffees
Farmers grow and harvest fairtrade-certified coffee beans under standards designed to protect the environment and promote sustainable agricultural practices. The certification process ensures farmers receive fair compensation for their products while safeguarding our natural resources.
The benefits of buying fairtrade-certified coffee are threefold. First, you are lowering your cancer risk by reducing your acrylamide and heavy metal exposure. Next, by purchasing this type of coffee, you are supporting small-scale farmers who are working hard to produce quality beans and earning a fair wage for their efforts. Last, you are supporting the movement to protect the environment. In other words, when you buy fairtrade-certified coffee, you’re doing more than just giving yourself an excellent cup of coffee – you are also preserving your health and creating a positive change in the world.
How Much Coffee Is Too Much?
The amount of coffee you consume may also affect your cancer risk levels. Generally speaking, drinking moderate amounts of coffee (up to three cups per day) has no known association with an increased risk for any cancer type.
Conversely, heavy coffee consumption (four or more cups per day) may increase certain cancer risks in some individuals. So, before you grab yourself another cup, consider how much you’ve already drunk and ensure it falls within recommended levels for healthy living.
Can Coffee Prevent Cancer?
On the other hand, some believe coffee is an anti-cancer beverage. While research into coffee’s potential benefits in cancer prevention is ongoing, studies suggest a link between coffee and a decreased risk of certain cancer types.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), coffee contains compounds that could help manage inflammation, which has long been associated with several forms of cancer. Furthermore, coffee contains antioxidants that may have the potential to protect cells from cancer-causing free radical damage.
In particular, AICR states that coffee may reduce the risk of colorectal and liver cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also found evidence suggesting that coffee consumption may lower the risk of endometrial cancer in women. However, although coffee may offer some protection against certain malignancies, more studies are necessary to confirm its anti-cancer properties.
Should You Keep Drinking Coffee?
Overall, consuming moderate amounts of coffee may not pose an immediate health risk. Simply be mindful of how much caffeine you drink each day, as well as what kind of beans you buy for brewing. Consider purchasing organic options whenever possible and remember that dark roasts contain more acrylamides than lighter options, so choose the latter if possible. Coffee is one of life’s little pleasures, so don’t forget to enjoy it responsibly.
Coffee lover or not, if cancer has somehow made its presence known in your life, New Hope Unlimited can quench your thirst for mind and body healing. As specialists in alternative cancer therapies, we are committed to developing a one-of-a-kind treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your cancer. Contact us now to experience medical tourism in Mexico and explore your alternative treatment options.