Is There a Hot Bev You Can Enjoy WITHOUT Risking Cancer?

Illustration for article titled Is There a Hot Bev You Can Enjoy WITHOUT Risking Cancer?
Image: via AP.

Want a nice, steaming side of anxiety to accompany your morning coffee? No? TOO BAD!


A California judge has decided that coffee should come with a cancer warning, posted by the shops that sell it. The New York Times explained:

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a nonprofit group based in Long Beach. The group charged that Starbucks and other companies — a group that eventually included 91 defendants — did not warn consumers that ingesting coffee would expose them to acrylamide, a chemical formed when coffee beans are roasted.

California keeps a list of chemicals it considers to cause cancer or reproductive harm, and acrylamide has been included since 1990. The state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65 after it was passed in 1986, requires businesses to provide warning labels when exposing consumers to any of the hundreds of chemicals listed.

“Since defendants failed to prove that coffee confers any human health benefits, defendants have failed to satisfy their burden of proving that sound considerations of public health support an alternate risk level for acrylamide in coffee,” wrote Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle.

Now, there is absolutely no scientific consensus on whether is a delicious life-giving elixir or a dreadful poison, as the proliferation of news articles on either side of the question over the years demonstrates. As recently as eight months ago, The Today Show was cheerfully informing us that a higher consumption of coffee was linked to a reduced risk of death. And the ruling isn’t final yet—defendants have two weeks to respond. However, if you are sufficiently unnerved to consider switching to hot tea, February brought bad news for you, too! Via CNN:

If you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol daily, you may want to consider letting your tea cool before you enjoy it. Drinking tea while it’s too hot could increase your risk of esophageal cancer, a new study suggests.

In the study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea was associated with a two- to fivefold increase in esophageal cancer, but only in people who also smoked or drank alcohol.

Truly I think L.A. lawyer Darlington Ibekwe spoke for all of us: “It’s like cigarettes. Like, damn, now I’ve got to see this?” he told the Associated Press. “Dude, I’m enjoying my coffee.”

This has been: Everything You Love Is Bad For You. Tune in next week when we learn the frightening new science on puppies, or something.

Senior Editor at Jezebel, specializing in books, royals, romance novels, houses, history, and the stories we tell about domesticity and femininity. Resident Windsor expert.



Enough of anything causes cancer. Even broccoli. I’ve got ‘this causes cancer’ fatigue at this point. There needs to be clear reporting up front on how much consumption it takes for the substance to increase your chances of getting cancer, and maybe a threshold for what level of needed consumption triggers legal warnings.