Even though this W.H.O. based agency has classified coffee as a possible carcinogen since 1991, does its recent “change of mind” spell good news for coffee drinkers around the world?
By: Ringo Bones
Since 1991, the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC has classified coffee as a Group 2B carcinogen citing that it could significantly increase one’s risk of getting bladder cancer. But during a recent press release back in Wednesday, June 15, 2016, the IARC announced after a result of their ongoing research that there is no conclusive evidence that drinking coffee causes cancer. Sadly, the IARC also announced the recent results of their ongoing research that very hot drinks – anything above 85 degrees Celsius – are probably carcinogenic and these include coffee, tea, hot cocoa, etc.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organization of the United Nations. It was formed back in May 1965 and is headquartered in Lyon, France. The IARC categorizes agents, mixtures and exposures into five categories. Note that the classification is based only on the strength of evidence for carcinogenicity, not on the relative increase of cancer risk due to exposure, or on the amount of exposure necessary to cause cancer. For example, a substance that only very slightly increases the likelihood of cancer and only after long-term exposure to large doses, but the evidence for that slight increase is strong, would be placed in Group 1 even though it does not pose a significant risk in normal use.
→ Group 1: carcinogenic to humans: There is enough evidence to conclude that it can cause cancer in humans.
→ Group 2A: probably carcinogenic to humans: There is strong evidence that it can cause cancer in humans but at present it is not conclusive.
→ Group 2B: possibly carcinogenic to humans: There is some evidence that it can cause cancer in humans, but at present it is far from conclusive.
→ Group 3: not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans: There is no evidence at present that it causes cancer in humans.
→ Group 4: probably not carcinogenic to humans: There is strong evidence that it does not cause cancer in humans. Only one substance – caprolactam – has been both assessed for carcinogenicity by the IARC and placed in this category.