Does coffee cause cancer? WHO verdict on Wednesday
WHO will announce on Wednesday the results of an evaluation of coffee, very hot beverages and their carcinogenicity
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New Delhi: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) under the World Health Organization (WHO) will announce on Wednesday the results of an evaluation of coffee, maté (a traditional South American caffeine-based drink) and very hot beverages and their carcinogenicity.
“After a thorough evaluation of all relevant and publicly available scientific literature, a group of 23 leading international experts convened by IARC have classified the carcinogenicity of coffee, maté and very hot beverages,” a WHO release said.
In 1969, IARC started a programme on the evaluation of cancer risk of chemicals to humans and in 1980, the programme was expanded to include the evaluation of cancer risk associated with exposures to complex mixtures.
The term ‘carcinogenic risk’ in the IARC Monographs series is taken to mean the probability that exposure to an agent will lead cancer in humans. The IARC Monographs Programme identifies and evaluates environmental causes of cancer in humans and to date, more than 900 agents have been reviewed.
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In 1990, coffee was classified by IARC in group 2B which means that it is ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans.’ To be sure, inclusion of an agent in the Monographs does not imply that it is a carcinogen, only that the published data have been examined. The evaluations of the probability of cancer risk of various agents are made by international working groups of independent scientists and are qualitative in nature.
The results of the data and evaluation said, “Taken as a whole, these data are consistent with a weak positive relationship between coffee consumption and the occurrence of bladder cancer, but the possibility that this is due to bias or confounding cannot be excluded.”
IARC further states that there is some evidence of an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and cancer of the large bowel and that coffee drinking could not be classified as to its carcinogenicity to other organs.
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Here are the different classifications of agents: Group 1 is for agents when there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer such as tobacco and asbestos.
Group 2 includes agents with a range of evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and in experimental animals. Within this, 2A means there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, while 2B means there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.
Group 3 means the agent is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans and group 4 means the agent is probably not carcinogenic to humans.
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