Coffee + Acrylamide = Cancer?
California is synonymous with gorgeous weather, pockets of wealth, Hollywood and devastating earthquakes. But when it comes to legality, California is truly a state unlike any other.
In 1995, the California Supreme Court outlawed “Ladies Night”, ruling that ladies’ night discounts are unlawful gender-based discrimination. In 2006, authorities arrested a naked man in California and charged him with carrying a concealed weapon, rather than indecent exposure. And if that wasn’t enough, back during 1981, in a small California town called Sunol; a dog ran for mayor. In case you were wondering, the mutt won.
Even with all the bizarre incidents that have led to the creation of new law and an omnivorous mammal becoming mayor; California may be on the verge of declaring an internationally famous beverage to be a cancer risk.
According to a recent article posted in the USA Today, a lawsuit said to be resolved in the coming months may have a judge officially declare coffee a cancerous health risk due to a “probable” carcinogen in coffee called acrylamide.
What is acrylamide?
According to the American Cancer Society, acrylamide is a chemical used mainly in certain industrial processes, such as in making paper, dyes, plastics, and in treating drinking water and wastewater. There are small amounts in some consumer products, such as caulk, food packaging, and some adhesives. It is also said to be found in cigarette smoke.
Acrylamide can also form in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking. The substance is found mainly in plant foods, such as potato products, grain products or coffee. Foods such as French fries and potato chips seem to have the highest levels of acrylamide.
Due to a 2010 lawsuit filed by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, also known as “CERT” claiming violations of Proposition 65, (the Safe Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 which requires businesses and public places to post warnings if anything can be potentially harmful), the council is asking for a warning to say this is a “chemical known to cause cancer” or a “chemical that causes cancer”. This would be displayed on a label at least 10-inches by 10-inches within an establishment.
Metzger Law Group, who represents CERT, is hoping to shine the light on acrylamide, the probable carcinogen in question.
But does acrylamide really increase the risk of cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society,
“acrylamide has been found to increase the risk of several types of cancer when given to lab animals (rats and mice) in their drinking water”.
The doses of acrylamide given in these studies have been as much as 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the levels people might be exposed to in foods. It’s not clear if these results would apply to people as well, but in general, it makes sense to limit human exposure to substances that cause cancer in animals. Since acrylamide was first found in certain foods back in 2002, dozens of studies have looked at whether people who eat more of these foods might be at higher risk for certain cancers. Most of the studies done so far have not found an increased risk of cancer in humans.
The EPA has established limits on hundreds of chemicals allowed in drinking water and acrylamide is one of those chemicals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has concluded that in order to even see any type of effect from eating/drinking, an average person would have to consume more than 500 times the normal daily intake.
According to the article, the WHO does not recognize coffee as a carcinogen.
And that’s the Truth Tuesday.
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