Most of us start the day with a coffee but could it be giving us cancer or should we be more worried about that steaming cup of tea instead?
There are few things most Australians love more than their morning cuppa.
In the words of Hugh Jackman, “to me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions”.
Indeed, coffee is an ingrained part of our culture and good coffee is something that Australians are starting to become known for around the world. On a trip to the US or UK these days you may well spot a café advertising the fact that they have an Australian barista.
So it is certainly cause for celebration that the World Health Organization this week announced that, having looked at more than 1,000 studies, there’s not enough evidence to confirm that coffee is a carcinogen.
Interestingly, the debate on the health effects of coffee is not a new one, with coffee long blamed for many illnesses such as stunting growth, heart disease and cancer.
However the group of 23 scientists who evaluated the carcinogenicity of drinking coffee for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have downgraded the classification of cancer as a possible carcinogen to ‘not classifiable’ after concluding that overall, ‘there isn’t enough proof to declare coffee drinking a cancer risk’.
But before you start celebrating by knocking back those long blacks like they are going out of fashion, remember that too much coffee can still lead to health issues. Or to be precise, too much caffeine (found in coffee, and in many energy drinks) may lead to irritability, dizziness, anxiety, dehydration, headache, increased heart rate and stomach pains. So you should enjoy it in moderation alongside water.
In addition for those of you who like hot drinks, the IARC also made an announcement that drinking ‘very hot’ drinks could potentially increase your risk of oesophageal cancer and are now classified as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.
How hot is too hot?
So what precisely does ‘very hot’ mean? According to the announcement, that’s anything over 65 or 70 degrees Celsius.
The American Cancer Society also issued an important response to the announcement that notwithstanding the new recommendations, you’re far more likely to reduce your cancer risk by quitting smoking or decreasing alcohol consumption.
So all we need now is a way to work out when our beverages have cooled down enough to drink. Maybe we should all buy those fancy new kettles that let you select what temperature you heat your water to!