Recent Blog Articles

Cancer

Is coffee harmful to my health?

July 1, 2018

Ask the doctors

Q. I recently read about the decision by the state of California to require cancer warnings on coffee. I drink a cup a day. Should I be concerned?

A. The recent decision by a California judge to require cancer warning labels on coffee stemmed from concerns about a specific substance found in coffee, acrylamide, which is a chemical that is produced when coffee is roasted. Coffee isn't the only food or beverage that contains acrylamide. Acrylamide is produced during the high-temperature cooking process used for numerous common foods, including cookies, crackers, and potato chips, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). But before you panic, while there definitely is acrylamide in coffee, scientists have yet to conclusively prove that this chemical causes cancer, according to the ACS. Most of the research on humans hasn't found any increased risk of cancer in people who eat foods containing acrylamide. Other studies looking at specific types of cancers have produced mixed results but found no conclusive links, according to the ACS. In addition, there is evidence that drinking coffee can bring some health benefits, such as reductions in the risks for stroke and liver disease. A 2015 study in Circulation also found that moderate coffee drinkers (defined as those having less than five cups a day) had lower risks for heart disease and neurological disease, according to the American Heart Association. So, the final message is this: if you are healthy and drink coffee moderately, there is no evidence that it's going to raise your risk of developing cancer.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.