Coffee Re-Classified!

Coffee lovers, if you had any concerns over your favorite beverage being a possible carcinogen – time to rejoice.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), headquartered in Lyon, France and a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), released a report on June 15 reclassifying coffee as ‘Group 3.’  Coffee previously had been classified as ‘Group 2B’ or as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

This is very good news for anyone who loves their morning joe and as a pick-me-up beverage throughout the day. 

Classifications clarified

The IARC has working groups who meet three times a year to study how certain foods, chemicals or other environmental factors influence cancer development in humans. From their study the IARC will place each agent into one of five categories

Coffee was placed in category three which is used for agents in which the evidence of carcinogenicity is inadequate in humans and inadequate or limited in experimental animals.

A statement from James R. Coughlin, Ph.D. CFS, an independent consultant in Food/Nutritional/Chemical Toxicology, Safety & Regulatory Affairs for Coughlin & Associates summed it up, “What I truly believe, based on my 35 years of study on coffee and cancer, is that coffee drinking does not cause human cancer, and in fact, it actually helps to reduce the risk of several forms of human cancer.”

Recent research on coffee and cancer encouraging

Several recent studies all suggest drinking coffee not only has an inverse association with some types of cancer but it may even reduce the incidence of cancer.  A 2011 meta-analysis reviewed 59 studies backing up this finding along with a more recent 2015 review of scientific data which found that coffee consumption is not associated with the majority of cancers; in fact for colorectal, liver, and breast cancers, coffee drinking may even have a protective effect.  Another study published April 2016 found that because of coffees several bioactive compounds relevant to colon physiology, global coffee consumption patterns suggest potential health benefits of the beverage for reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.

Other health benefits of coffee

Besides what looks to be possible benefits of coffee consumption and lowering cancer risk, our cup of java has other health perks it provides as well.

Due to the amount of coffee consumed in the United States, coffee is one of the best sources of antioxidants.  Those influential antioxidants may be having a positive effect on other factors within the body such as acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.  In addition, coffee contains small amounts of some nutrients such as potassium, niacin, vitamin E, and magnesium which helps the body use the hormone insulin.

Other health benefits brewed by coffee include increased cognitive function and when we add milk to our cup of coffee, it becomes a carrier of calcium, a mineral often lacking in many Americans diets.

If the thought of drinking straight black coffee sounds unappealing, instead of lacing your coffee with sugar and fat, try adding spices such as cinnamon or vanilla powder.  Cinnamon is particularly rich in antioxidants and polyphenols only adding to coffee’s health potentials.

Guidelines on safe coffee consumption

Like with any food or beverage, moderation is key to consuming coffee wisely.  A daily intake of 2-3 8-ounce cups is considered moderate coffee consumption and appears to be safe. 

For people with hypertension, bear in mind, coffee does not cause hypertension but it has been shown to increase blood pressure for a short time afterwards. Anyone with hypertension and the elderly may find they are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine found in coffee and should probably stick with decaffeinated coffee.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women who consume coffee are advised to consume no more than a maximum of 200 milligram a day which is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in a 12 oz. serving of caffeinated coffee.  This was reaffirmed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2015 on their position of coffee consumption for pregnant and breastfeeding women.