Investigation into hot drinks by World Health Organisation
It is has been reported in the media over time that certain organisations claim, or counter claim, that very hot drinks might cause cancer and in particular, that drinking coffee might potentially have a carcinogenic effect. An investigation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that “drinking very hot beverages probably causes cancer of the oesophagus in humans.” IARC had previously rated coffee as “possibly carcinogenic”, however, this investigation did not find any conclusive evidence that consuming coffee can cause cancer. IARC had previously put coffee as a “possible carcinogen” in its 2B category alongside chloroform, lead and many other substances. As a result of this combined investigation, IARC has recently changed its view on the matter of coffee being a possible carcinogenic. It latest review found that there was no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of coffee drinking and pointed to some studies showing coffee may actually reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
IARC Director Dr Christopher Wild suggested that it is probable and appears to be that the increased cause of oesophageal cancer is more to do with the temperature, rather than the type of drinks themselves. The researchers found that there was a correlation between countries where tea is drunk very hot and an increased risk of oesophageal cancer as the temperature of the drink increased. Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia says that “coffee drinkers should be comforted to know that they are not increasing their cancer risk – as long as their coffee isn’t too hot.” Proessor Aranda believes that people should concentrate more on what they know can cause cancer and that governments should continue to invest funds in seeking to provide information and research in the areas where a large number of people’s lives can be affected, for example more bowel cancer screening, anti smoking and skin cancer awareness programs.