Anne from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia asked:

Are there cancer risks associated with coffee and tea?

Cancer risks associated to drinking coffee

I am confused about whether coffee can cause cancer. My sister read online that known carcinogens are used in the decaffeination process, but I have also heard that coffee reduces the risk of prostate cancer. What is your advice?

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Our answer

A comprehensive review of the evidence by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has shown that drinking coffee does not increase the risk of cancer. Studies that analysed regular and decaffeinated coffee separately generally found similar results. Different processes can be used for decaffeination of coffee and tea. In the past, a range of solvents were used. This may be the reason behind the internet stories, as some of these solvents have been linked to cancer. With modern methods, different solvents are used and very little of the solvent remains; in Australia most decaffeination uses water. Information on methods used by companies should be readily available on their websites or through their consumer information services. Some studies suggest that the antioxidants in coffee may play a protective role against some cancers, but there needs to be more research done in this area. When it comes to eating and drinking it is best to eat a wide variety of food, but limit high-kilojoule foods because they contribute to weight gain, which we know is a major risk factor for cancer.

This page was last updated on: June 15, 2016
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