In September, we reported that a battle was raging in the California court system over whether or not coffee should come with a cancer-warning label. You may remember it from our imagining of what carcinogenic coffee might look like (see above). Well, those hippy dippy librul California courts went ahead and decided in favor of adding cancer-warning labels for coffee. We all think this is silly, because of course we do; coffee people don’t want those sorts of labels on their beloved nectar. But you know who else thinks this ruling is stupid? The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
A quick refresher on this whole foofaraw: roasted coffee contains a chemical called acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer in rats. The level of acrylamide in roasted coffee—and a ton of other things we eat, mind you—is incredibly low, not nearly as high as the amount given to rats to cause cancer. And because of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, “private citizens, advocacy groups and attorneys can sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties,” which is exactly what happened.
After a Los Angeles County Superior Judge ruled that “all coffee shops and sellers in the state of California must label their product and warn their consumers about potential cancer risk from drinking coffee,” the AICR issued a rather emphatic statement in support of coffee not requiring any cancer warnings. In the statement, the AICR enumerates the many reasons coffee should not be considered carcinogenic as it relates to acrylamide content. Reasons include the aforementioned trace amounts found in coffee not being high enough to be carcinogenic, empirical research measuring acrylamide levels in the blood of high coffee consumers that shows “no hint of increased cancer risk,” and allusions to other research that shows many of the hundreds of compounds in coffee actually decreasing the possibility of cancer.
In short, their argument can be summed up thusly:
So when it comes to doing something you are going to do anyway, who are you going to believe: a government official saying you shouldn’t or actual scientists who have done the leg work and say that you can? Yeah, me too.