Is coffee harmful to my health?

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.

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