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Does coffee cancer review put beverages in hot water?

Thursday 16 June, 2016 by Laura

In excellent news for coffee-lovers, Melbourne’s favourite beverage has been cleared of causing cancer.

The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced the news today after an exhaustive review of more than 1000 studies.

But the announcement wasn’t without controversy, as IARC also determined there could be a cancer link from consuming drinks above 65°C.

This twist threw our caffeinated team into chaos - could the preferred temperatures of our favourite baristas be increasing our risk of cancer?

According to IARC, probably not.

You see, the reason the organisation warned about hot beverages had less to do with your morning latte and more to do with the high rates of oesophageal cancers in South America, East Africa, and Central and East Asia.

What these three areas also have in common is their love of very hot (above 65°C) beverages – tea in Asia and Africa, and mate (pronounced mar-tay), which is an infusion made from a native shrub, in South America. Rather than wait for a drink to cool, the custom is usually to consume these drinks at boiling temperatures, which can damage the throat and increase risk of cancer.

For this reason, IARC concluded that it is likely the high consumption of very hot drinks and rates of oesophageal cancer are linked. However, no one really knows how many cases would be linked to very hot beverages, so the link is only classified as ‘probable’ for now.

According to the experts, we can keep drinking our tea and coffee without fear – although it’s recommended giving a hot drink a few minutes to cool to make sure it’s less than 65 degrees (and, you know, because pouring boiling water down your throat is generally not fun).

If you’re grabbing a brew from your barista of choice, fear not – we asked a few of our favourites and they confirmed we were unlikely to consume a drink over 65°C.

As one barista explained, a milk-based coffee will be served at up to 65°C, while a black coffee may be brewed slightly higher, but will have cooled down for safe drinking once it’s in your clutches.

In Victoria, we’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s best baristas, so trust in their wisdom when it comes to temperatures and you’re sure to have a coffee that’s not only safe to drink, but delicious as well.

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