clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Drinking Extremely Hot Beverages Linked to Cancer, WHO Claims

The World Health Organization prefers iced coffee, apparently

Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

Drinking piping hot coffee could be fraught with more dangers than just a scalded tongue, at least according to the World Health Organization.

A new review from the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer says coffee may not be linked to cancer after all, which is a reversal of the organization’s 1991 claim that the beverage might be a carcinogen.

The IARC reviewed hundreds of previous studies about coffee and cancer, and determined that there isn't actually sufficient evidence to suggest a connection between the two. There's a caveat, however: The IARC determined that drinking extremely hot beverages — coffee included — may be linked to an increased cancer risk, as Reuters reports.

While there hasn’t been enough research conducted on humans to say for certain, studies on animals connected drinking liquids at temperatures at or above 149 degrees Fahrenheit to a higher risk of esophageal cancer. (Coffee from restaurants and coffee shops is typically served between 160 and 185 degrees.) As Time explains, said conclusion was based "on studies that found higher rates of esophageal cancer among people who drank extremely hot tea or coffee compared to those who consumed their drinks at lower temperatures. The link to cancer remained strong even after they adjusted for things like smoking and other possible cancer risk factors."

The IARC acknowledged that more research was needed, and it’s always best to be wary of new studies making such declarations; research biases are quite common, and funding sources can make it hard for consumers to trust the results of studies that attempt to offer any sort of dietary recommendations.

Still, other recent studies have showered coffee in good reviews, with one study suggesting it can even diminish the effects of heavy alcohol consumption. (Plus, it’s iced coffee season right now anyway.)

The WHO recently declared processed meats like bacon and sausage to be carcinogens, cueing plenty of backlash.