Just like a pack of cigarettes, coffee in California will now be slapped with a cancer warning. A judge ruled on March 28 that coffee contains enough of a chemical linked to cancer to be considered carcinogenic, according to the Associated Press.
The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a nonprofit group, sued approximately 90 coffee retailers under a California law that states companies must warn customers if their products contain one of 900 chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects. One of these carcinogens is acrylamide, which is found in brewed coffee.
The coffee industry claimed the carcinogen isn't at a large enough level that would be harmful for humans. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle, however, said Big Coffee didn't provide enough evidence that acrylamide is safe.
"While plaintiff offered evidence that consumption of coffee increases the risk of harm to the fetus, to infants, to children and to adults, defendants' medical and epidemiology experts testified that they had no opinion on causation," Berle wrote in his ruling, according to the Associated Press. "Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving . . . that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health."
The coffee industry, on the other hand, disagrees; William Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association, said that coffee is shown to be healthy. The World Health Organization moved coffee off its list of possible carcinogens in 2016.
The cancer debate comes among the larger discussion of whether or not coffee is a healthy beverage. Drinking coffee has been linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and dementia, and most types of cancer. Another report from 2017 found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of health from any cause, including cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease.
It seems the biggest concern with drinking coffee is that it may cause gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), and too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, tremors, and heart palpitations. Nicole Van Groningen, MD, physician at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, told us in a previous article about coffee and health that "drinking coffee appears remarkably safe" and that "moderate consumption is a low-risk habit that could turn out to be one of the healthier things you can do."