World Health Organization Revokes Coffee’s Carcinogen Status, Reversing Previous Findings

More than 25 years after finding coffee to lead to bladder cancer, the WHO reverses course, highlighting coffee’s benefits
Turns out your body loves that latte as much as you do.

Wikimedia Commons / Takeaway / CC BY-SA 3.0

Turns out your body loves that latte as much as you do.

Good news, coffee enthusiasts. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer freed coffee of its status as a carcinogen, finding that coffee does not, in fact, increase the risk of bladder cancer. The finding reverses those from a 1991 study, in which the WHO classified coffee as a possible carcinogen. The reversal came after the WHO reviewed 1,000 studies and confirmed that coffee is not a cancer culprit.

In addition, the study highlights coffee’s benefits in decreasing the risk of liver and uterine cancer. The IARC did note, however, that drinking any liquid that is too hot—coffee included—is “probably carcinogenic” and increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus.

Despite its (recently revoked) status as a carcinogen, the coffee industry is still booming. Since 2011, the global coffee industry has grown at a rate of 2.5 percent per year. For their part, Americans spent $74.2 billion last year on their favorite morning pick-me-up, with the average American drinking three cups of coffee a day. 

This news may not directly affect the coffee industry; America’s coffee-shop culture is booming, and according to the National Coffee Association, coffee is now the most popular beverage in the U.S., surpassing even tap water. While this news might not have any impact on coffee consumption, coffee-lovers everywhere can still breathe a little easier when they stare into their favorite mug.

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