Stop Demonizing Coffee.

If you thought we finally settled the coffee debate, a California court just added more white noise to the black liquid and consumers are confused once again. Under Proposition 65, businesses selling coffee would be required to post cancer warning labels due to minuscule amounts of acrylamide, a chemical formed when coffee beans are roasted. Once again, science and policy are at odds.

Mariana Carla Stern, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies diet and cancer, claims that “from the science standpoint, there’s no reason the public should worry about drinking coffee.” The World Health Organization announced two years ago that there is “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” Dr. Nigel Brockton, director of research at the American Institute of Cancer Research, stated the court’s ruling “demonizes coffee as a carcinogen when the overwhelming evidence in humans is for benefit.” Coffee has been found to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even some cancers. Scientific research links coffee consumption with increased longevity.

The court’s decision flouts scientific findings, adds unnecessary noise and confusion, and detracts attention from known carcinogens such as sugar and added sweeteners. When will courts decide we need a warning label for sugar? Sugar has been proved to be both a drug and a poison, directly linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, but the sugar industry lobbies intensely against warning labels. In fact, sugar doesn’t even have a daily percentage on current labels. Why does sugar get a pass while coffee is demonized?

Ignore the noise and drink coffee. California’s labeling laws single out harmless products and give toxic ingredients a pass. While we’re at it, can we remove the warning from balsamic vinegar at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other markets in California? Italians have been consuming it for thousands of years without increased health risks.

Dr. H.