Coffee & Acrylamide; Is it SAFE?


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By the end of March, a California judge’s ruling that would require coffee to be branded with cancer warning labels.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check this out here!

Although this mattered happen overseas, that doesn’t stop it from being spread over to our shores and subsequently pose the question, is coffee safe?
Simplified for your pleasure, here’s what you need to know! 😊

1) Why the cancer label?

In California, there is a list of chemicals that is considered to be cancer or reproductive harm causing and acrylamide has been included since 1990.
The state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warning labels when exposing consumers to any of the hundreds of chemicals listed.
Since acrylamide is produced during the roasting process in coffee making, the logic here is that, coffee provided by vendors in California then would have to be labelled with a warning of cancer causing.

2) So, Coffee does cause cancer!?

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Hold your horses cowboys (and cowgirls too!), when we say cancer causing, we first and foremost have to understand 1 thing. “HOW MUCH OF IT WOULD THEN CAUSE CANCER?!”
So, here’s what the science says about acrylamide and cancer.
Acrylamide according to the International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) is classified as a “group 2A – probably carcinogen”.
A carcinogen essentially refers to any compound or chemical that may increase one’s risk of cancer.
Even though the scientific evidence on human studies on the matter are highly limited, there is enough evidence from animal studies
(Dosage 1000 – 100,000 times larger than current dietary human exposure)
to deem acrylamide “probably carcinogenic”.
Now I can already hear some of you screaming, “nahhhh there, see probably weyyyyyy”. And I get it, you’re right, but you should take note a few things.
Firstly, animal studies and human studies are 2 separate studies, while you may extrapolate 1 to the other, they don’t always coincide.
Secondly, from that reasoning, you should also stop eating these foods as acrylamide compounds are also produced:

  • Bread (Heavily toasted and yes, your special artisan bread also contains it)
  • Potatoes (French Fries & Chips)
  • Toasted grains
  • Toasted wheat cereals
  • Cookies
  • Cocoa (yes, your beloved chocolate has it too!)

3) Put amount into context

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So, yeah, should you then stop eating all those foods too just because they contain acrylamide?
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a Reference Dose for the oral intake of acrylamide.
This is a measurement of how much acrylamide can be taken over a lifetime that can be predicted to produce no noticeable health effects.
In other words, as long as the intake is not beyond the reference dose of 0.002 mg of acrylamide per Kg body weight/day. YOU GONNA BE FINE.
A cup of coffee can have an average of 0.45micro grams (roasted coffee) of acrylamide, if you’re an average joe of 65Kg, you can take around 130 micrograms/day. See the math now? Hmmmmm???
Subsequently, a cigarette contains 0.6793 micrograms per cigarette, assuming the average smoker takes 10 cigarettes a day, that would 6.793 micrograms per cigarette, so should we really then continue selling cigarettes? Hmmm….

4) Coffee has a lot of other benefits!

Not to glorify coffee now, but hey let’s put this into consideration as well, coffee has also been associated with an overall reduced risk of total cancer! Not to mention reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers and many others.
Most important, it keeps me up and running to work in the morning, and god knows what kind of apocalypse the world would look like if people stopped taking coffee completely!

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In summary,

Don’t stop taking coffee because it contains a compound that may cause cancer,
Don’t start taking coffee because it may reduce risk for certain diseases.
In other words, moderation is still key, and as long as you’re living a healthy lifestyle containing a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, matched with regular exercise, your daily cup of coffee is more likely to just add and make you better in the long run.
Now if you don’t mind, I have an espresso with my name on it!
Till next time, stay healthy everyone!


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