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Drinks Health Science

Coffee Must Now Be Marked As Cancer-Causing In California Even Though It Fights It

Coffee is the lifeblood of our generation. It wakes us up in the morning, gets us past the 2 pm crash, and is the focal point of some of our social lives. According to a California judge, it now causes cancer too, despite doctors suggesting otherwise.

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NBC reports that the judge ruled in favor of The Council for Education and Research on Toxics in a major lawsuit regarding California’s Prop 65 and coffee. Under Prop 65, warning labels must be posted at establishments whose products contain potential cancer-causing compounds. In the case of coffee chains like Starbucks, that involves their bread and butter (aka the coffee), which contains a carcinogen called acrylamide.

Many coffee shops in California haven’t posted signs regarding their coffee based on the argument that coffee actually fights cancer and that acrylamide is present in low amounts. The judge, however, found that they couldn’t prove that coffee provides a benefit to human health, meaning that places like Starbucks could now be subject to fines for not having the signs up in the first place. That will be decided in a later phase of the trial.

Still, given recent scientific and medical findings around the cancer-causing potential around coffee, this ruling seemed a little bizarre. The World Health Organization (WHO) just took coffee off of their “possible carcinogen” list, and the American Institute for Cancer Research views coffee as a cancer-fighting food. This is partially due to the presence of antioxidants in coffee that, if you drank 4-6 cups of plain brew per day, could lower the risk of some cancers.

Sure, coffee has something that can cause cancer, but it’s also got compounds that fight it. That doesn’t mean they necessarily cancel each other out, but it does mean that if someone tells you coffee is dangerous, you can tell them otherwise.

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Health News

Four Facts To Know About Acrylamide, The Carcinogen In Your Toast And Fries

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Photo: Kingdom of Style

My dad loves to have a toasted bagel for breakfast. For as long as I can remember, he’s always toasted it to the point where it’s slightly blackened. Several of us in the family have told him that blackened baked goods aren’t good for his health and can potentially cause cancer.

This is due to a compound called acrylamide, a concerning carcinogen that caused the UK Food Standards industry to publish guidelines on how to toast bread and fry potatoes to avoid the compound.

Acrylamide has definitely been a compound of concern around the world, and is a well-known carcinogen. What exactly is this compound, though, and why is it present in our food? Here are some interesting facts on acrylamide to familiarize you with this cancer-causing compound:

 

Acrylamide isn’t added into foods, but can be produced by cooking foods.

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Acrylamide is formed when sugars naturally found in food reacts with asparagine, a common amino acid that is also found in our foods. Some specific foods, such as potatoes, grain products, and coffee beans, tend to be higher in asparagine content. These foods tend to produce higher amounts of acrylamide as a result when cooked. Higher temperatures (above 250 degrees Fahrenheit) and longer time periods of cooking will affect the level of acrylamide present, so toasting your bread for a shorter period of time or lower temperature will decrease acrylamide production.

 

Gentle cooking methods like boiling will help prevent acrylamide production.

Mashed Potatoes

Microwaving and steaming are also gentle cooking methods that won’t lead to the production of acrylamide. Boiling potatoes and steaming desserts are great ways to get your starch without the acrylamide that follows. Considering the British have both of these (mashed potatoes and puddings), they know what they’re doing when it comes to lowering cancer risk.


Starchy foods are more likely to form acrylamide, but meats can as well.

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High temperatures, long cooking times, and free asparagine are the key things you need to produce acrylamide. Grilled and smoked meats will definitely be higher in acrylamide as a result — especially when barbecue sauces and marinades are brushed on to add the sugars needed to produce more acrylamide.


The FDA recommends a healthy diet to combat acrylamide intake.

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Fried, roasted, and baked foods definitely have acrylamide and can cause cancer, but a healthy diet contains many cancer-fighting compounds that can combat the effects of acrylamide. Following the dietary health guidelines from the FDA is helpful in combating cancer. Of course, cancer can come from a one-time tiny dose or long periods of consumption of acrylamide, depending on the person. But, it’s always good to have a healthy diet to combat it regardless.

Hopefully, this sheds some light on the mysteries of acrylamide and why its such a taboo compound. And maybe, after my dad reads this, he’ll burn his bagels a little bit less in the morning.