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Ask Dr. Nandi: Roasted coffee could contain carcinogens

Posted at 6:40 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 18:40:18-05

If you're anything like me you love a good cup of coffee in the morning. But a recent California lawsuit is raising concerns that the process involved in making it could potentially be harmful to our health.

A non-profit group pushing for transparency on toxic chemicals has sued some of the nation's largest coffeemakers. At issue is a chemical called acrylamide, which is known to cause cancer in rats and mice at very high doses. 

Sounds scary doesn't it? It’s actually a chemical that’s not just found in coffee — it’s also in things like potatoes, canned black olives, prune juice, and baked goods like bread and cookies.

It’s in some food packaging and is a component of cigarette smoke, as well.

In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified acrylamide as a carcinogen, because of the studies showing its cancer-causing effects in animals. However, studies in humans have been mixed. 

A research review done four years ago found that there was NO significant association between eating foods containing acrylamide and various cancers.

The Food and Drug Administration says it’s still gathering more information — but it also released a statement giving consumers suggestions for cutting the chemical out of their diets. So I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more about this issue in the near future. 

Partha’s Rx:

  1. It’s wise to read the FDA guidance on acrylamide and follow the agency’s advice on how to remove extra amounts from your diet.
  2. Look for coffee products that don’t contain this chemical. Although they are few and far between, they do exist. 
  3. Avoid eating anything that’s been burned black — burned food, like coffee, has been known to create carcinogenic chemicals. 
  4. If you’re still worried about the health effects of acrylamide, consider getting your caffeine fix from tea instead of coffee!

So, something to consider and I'll be updating you on any developments as soon as they happen.