The Best News About Coffee We’ve Heard in Decades


Drink it in.

The health benefits of coffee are spilling out from study after study after study recently. So many health benefits, in fact, that a panel of scientists even asked the federal government to recommend drinking moderate amounts of the stuff.

But for decades, the conventional wisdom was the opposite: that coffee actually caused cancer. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO), 25 years after declaring coffee a possible carcinogen, has reversed its course, joining the conventional scientific wisdom that coffee is good — or at least probably not bad — for you.

A panel of 23 scientists reviewed more than 1,000 studies and found “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee,” according to a WHO press release. Coffee was previously classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” but is now “not classifiable as to its carcinogenity to humans.” In fact, some studies they reviewed showed that cancer was linked to reduced risks of liver and endometrial cancer. The scientists published their findings in The Lancet Oncology.

To be clear, the New York Times points out, much of these studies are based on observational evidence, not a lab study, so it’s hard to exactly pinpoint any cause and effect. But there are just so many studies out there with the same results that researchers tend to agree that a cup of Joe can probably do more good than harm.

But the WHO researchers did find drinking very hot beverages (above 65 degrees Celsius/149 degrees Fahrenheit) “probably causes” esophageal cancer. So it’s not the coffee itself that causes cancer, but the temperature of it. Studies in countries like China and Iran, where drinks are served extra hot, found that the risk of esophageal cancer went up the hotter the drinks were.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Coffee Association recommends brewers keep their water between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, then let the coffee reach a “comfortable temperature” before serving. So let your drink cool off a little bit before you sip, and it’ll likely taste better and be better for you.


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