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The Truth About the Coffee-Cancer Link

By Jane Dizon
May 2, 2018
The Truth About the Coffee-Cancer Link image

We’ve been hearing a lot in the news about the link between coffee and cancer, but is there really anything that we need to worry about? Can you still enjoy that cup of Joe without having to worry about developing certain types of cancer? Well, don’t start to panic just yet, because there is actually new evidence that coffee can be beneficial to your health. Today we’re going to take a look at the risks and benefits of coffee, and if you should have any concerns about the amount of coffee that you drink.

No Reason to Panic

According to Harvard School of Public Health nutrition expert, Dr. Edward Giovannucci, “at the minimum, coffee is neutral. If anything, there’s fairly good evidence of the benefit of coffee on cancer.” Other experts are also saying that it’s far too soon to make any warnings about the link between coffee and cancer, and that more studies need to be done before there’s any evidence of a link or no link. In fact, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency has taken coffee off the “possible carcinogen” list, as there’s no evidence that it can contribute to certain types of cancer.

The Chemical Acrylamide

The current problem scientists are looking at when it comes to drinking coffee is the chemical acrylamide, which is created when coffee beans are roasted. This is labeled by many government agencies as possibly carcinogenic. This finding is based on animal research. Tests on six different brands of coffee show that levels of acrylamide can range from 175 to 351 parts per billion. The coffees that had the highest amounts of the chemical were decaffeinated crystals. But, many other foods we eat also contain acrylamide, including French fries.

This chemical can also be found in drinking water, but it’s still unknown how it affects humans, as studies have only been done on rodents, which absorb acrylamide differently than humans do. But, a group of 23 scientists gathered by the World Health Organization cancer agency have stated that in their findings, drinking coffee, even in large amounts, is not likely to cause prostate, pancreatic, and breast cancers. Their findings also showed that there’s actually evidence that it can lower the risk of some cancers, including liver and uterine cancer.

Are there Any Health Benefits from Drinking Coffee?

Most of us drink coffee for two reasons: because we enjoy it and because it helps to keep us awake. In fact, after water and tea, coffee is the most popular drink in the world. In many cases, it’s even allowed on some diets, although it is not part of a The Paleo Diet. Studies show that there are benefits from drinking coffee in moderate amounts, depending on the person, as the reactions can vary for everyone. Some people don’t have any issues with drinking coffee, while others find that it leads them to become over-stimulated.

The biggest problem many people have with coffee is dependency. While this isn’t an actual health problem per se, it can cause people to have numerous adverse symptoms when they don’t get the amount of caffeine that their bodies are used to. Just like any other drug, people who give up coffee can experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms.

There are several advantages, as well as disadvantages to being a regular coffee drinker. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of drinking coffee.


  • Performance – Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can help to improve your reaction time, short-term memory and cognitive performance.
  • Constipation – Drinking coffee can stimulate peristalsis, which is going to help anyone who deals with regular constipation.
  • Heart Disease – Recent studies show that drinking coffee moderately can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Antioxidants – Coffee is well-known for containing antioxidants that are beneficial to our health, including methylpyridinium.
  • Liver Health – Some studies show that coffee can help protect the liver, and can even reduce the risk of liver cancer.


  • High Cortisol Levels – While it doesn’t happen to everyone, drinking coffee can contribute to the rise of unhealthy cortisol levels, which can lead to weight gain, poor sleep, and an unhealthy immune system.
  • Iron Absorption – Coffee has a high tannin content, which can lower the rate of absorption of iron by the body, leading to an iron deficiency.
  • Insulin Sensitivity – Those who drink coffee regularly risk a decrease in insulin sensitivity, which can lead to weight gain, as well as causing a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. There have been mixed results in these studies, but the best of these studies show that it can have negative effects.
  • Water Loss – Coffee is known to be a diuretic, so it only makes sense that drinking too much of it can lead to water loss, causing dehydration and imbalances in electrolytes. Studies show that this doesn’t seem to be a problem for long-term coffee drinkers whose bodies are used to it.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues – Drinking coffee can be linked to gastrointestinal issues, as it can irritate the gastrointestinal tract tissues. It’s not advisable for those who have ulcers, gastritis, IBS and other gastrointestinal problems to drink too much coffee.

Those who drink decaffeinated coffee don’t seem to experience as many health issues, so this may be a good reason to cut the caffeine as much as possible. It’s best to drink coffee that is naturally decaffeinated, or processed with Swiss water so there’s even less caffeine, as even decaf can have trace amounts of this chemical.

Look for Replacement Beverages

There are many arguments both for and against drinking coffee. Some say it’s good for your health, while others say that it can lead to numerous health problems. While coffee is a drink that is allowed on many diet plans, it is not actually Paleo-friendly, so if you’re considering to hop on the The Paleo Diet bandwagon, you may want to look for other beverages and foods that can give you more energy naturally. Look for foods that are nutrient-dense and natural, as well as anti-inflammatory foods that promote healthy living.

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