| |Join NCA!

coffee and IARC

IARC: Coffee Does Not Cause Cancer

The latest coffee and health news continues to be overwhelmingly positive for coffee drinkers.

After a 2016 review, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that it can no longer classify coffee as a “possible carcinogen.” In fact, coffee may have protective powers against liver and endometrial cancer (see the full NCA news release).

This announcement marked the first time IARC reversed a food or beverage classification, reflecting the overwhelming evidence on the potential health benefits of coffee. Key areas of research include: 

The NCA is working with guidance with the NCA Scientific Advisory Group to compile some of this research on Coffee & Me, where you can find links to relevant independent studies and reports.

What Are Very Hot Beverages?

In conjunction with IARC's review of coffee, the agency classified “very hot” beverages as a “probable” cause of cancer (with the specific example of matcha consumed from a traditional metal straw). Concerned coffee drinkers should note that the evidence on which this classification was based did not include even a single study of coffee drinkers.

Learn more about IARC's findings on hot beverages


FAQ: IARC & Coffee

What is IARC?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is an independent agency within the World Health Organization (WHO) that engages international, inter-disciplinary experts to identify potential cancer causes and preventive measures.

IARC places exclusive emphasis on the potential of causing cancer ("hazard”), such as from environmental and lifestyle factors, rather than considering actual disease causation (“risk”). To date, nearly 1,000 agents have been reviewed by IARC's Monographs Programme.

What do IARC’s ratings mean?

IARC classifies potential carcinogens in five categories, ranging from carcinogenic (Group 1) to probably not carcinogenic (Group 4).

The classifications are assigned based on the potential for cancer risk, rather than the likelihood that cancer can result from the exposure to the agent. In other words, IARC’s ratings are based on studies that cite a potential links to cancer, but not on research that demonstrates the degree of actual risk.

Also, as a matter of policy, IARC  assigns greater weight to results that cite a cancer link, even when research from more scientifically vigorous studies show no link. This can lead to confusion for consumers, as resulted from IARC’s announcement on bacon.

For more information, visit IARC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

What does the science say about coffee and cancer?

For decades, the scientific research on coffee and caffeine has been overwhelmingly positive. In their recent review, IARC  found a link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colorectal, breast, endometrial, and cervical.

Among other potential health benefits, coffee consumption is strongly linked to a reduced risk of liver diseasetype 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

Learn more about what science says about coffee, caffeine, and health.