Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Very Hot Drinks Are a Likely Cancer Risk

The World Health Organization has found that drinking very hot drinks is a likely cancer risk but there is no evidence of a link between coffee and cancer.

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has found no conclusive evidence that coffee causes cancer. The group did however find that drinking very hot drinks (65 degrees or above) probably causes cancer of the oesophagus. This finding suggests that it is the temperature of drinks rather than the drinks themselves that is important when it comes to cancer.

IARC have classified the consumption of coffee as "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans" (Group 3). A Group 3 evaluation does not mean coffee drinking has been proved safe when it comes to cancer, but it means that there is not enough evidence to say it is hazardous. Coffee drinking was previously categorised as Group 2B or "possibly carcinogenic to humans" on the basis of a link to bladder cancer, the experts say this link has become weaker and it is no longer possible to determine if coffee causes bladder cancer.

Tea was not evaluated as part of this review.

“Coffee drinkers should be comforted to know they are not increasing their cancer risk – as long as their coffee isn’t too hot. The risk applies to beverages at 65 degrees Celsius or hotter. As a guide, a beverage at that temperature is likely to be uncomfortably hot for some people to drink. So let the drink cool a little and...

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